It’s often the small, personal accomplishments that mean the most-these victories, no matter how insignificant, are what allow us to evolve and develop who we are as a person. And for Queens-based multi-instrumentalist Grant Carey (AKA Private Victories), they’re the key to understanding ourselves, our emotions and our place in the world. Drawing influence from artists like Stephin Merrit and Devon Welsh of Majical Cloudz, Carey writes songs that touch on both universal truths and revelations that are incredibly specific to certain experiences. Veering between a lo-fi bedroom aesthetic and something a bit more produced, his music is alive, full of blood, pain and joy, in a way that few other artists seem to manage.
Carey is getting ready to release his self-titled debut record May 20 and is looking to spread his exuberance and morbidity to all those within earshot. These songs fall into a wonderfully rickety sway between the light and dark aspects of his personality. But throughout it all, he focuses on the expansive theme of healing as a way of opening up his music to everyone who cares to listen.
Recorded in the summer and fall of 2015, these songs came about after a breakup with his longtime girlfriend and a subsequent neck injury that left him in pain with feelings of anxiety and fatigue. It was music that helped get him through this difficult time, and after a particularly fruitful recording marathon in his studio in the basement of his parents’house, the songs that would form his debut were written and put to tape. These songs are emotionally bare, broken and intimate, a collection of sounds that resonate far outside his own headspace.
Created with an old Kawai upright piano, a battered drum kit purchased off Craigslist and some thoroughly ramshackle guitars, Carey enlisted some friends to help fill in the blank spaces within each track. Contributions from singer-songwriter Aidan Boardman, vocalist Alyssa Magarian and musician Zachary Stewart were recorded in his Queens apartment, while singer Iris Garrison-Driscoll texted her vocals to him from London. He never shies away from the more uncomfortable experiences in his life, drawing upon every moment for inspiration,resulting in a group of songs that are intensely personal and almost uncomfortably direct.
On his new single, “Heal You,” Carey combines his love of folk simplicity with a self-deprecating humor that allows him to step back from his influences and see them for what they are: a collection of memories and moments in time that have guided him to where he is today. Interlaced with hand claps and a striking but subtle horn section, the song finds him digging into his need to fix things and how that can be a form of catharsis itself. Crisp and distinct, his voice flows along on a melody of gentle harmonics and buoyant rhythms, and comes to rest within a beautiful landscape of acoustic diversions and hesitant hopefulness.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Updated @ 11:09 a.m.on 4/28/16.