Daughn Gibson - Carnation - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Daughn Gibson - Carnation

by Justin Pearson Rating:6 Release Date:2015-05-21

Daughn Gibson proved he had a penchant for pairing the seemingly disparate sounds of country with otherworldly, Lynchian moods on his solid debut, All Hell. Follow-up Me Moan was decent enough with its expansion of his signature sound into broader territory, even though it wasn't nearly as good.

Carnation doesn't come off quite as focused as those previous efforts, though. Gibson's swagger appears to be at a crossroads and the exhaustion shows in spots across the album's landscape. A wobbly compass leads the way to an unclear destination.

Carnation is generally a mixed bag; some tracks reach that sweet spot, but some just keep trying and appear embarrassed in their execution. Because of this, it ends up feeling uneven and confused. Ideas both old and new are scattered throughout, and when they take hold they're great. It's when they're not logically placed that certain songs end up as half-hearted attempts.

Gibson's unique sound shows up in the ghostly fragmented vocal samples of 'Bled to Death' and the dusty, back-country vibe of 'Heaven You Better Come In'. The sluggish pace and instrumentation of 'A Rope Ain't Enough' supplies an eerie, sticky atmosphere, like mud-trudging through a nightmare you can't escape. It's wonderfully weird.

Where he really nails it is on 'Shatter You Through'. Its 80s nighttime heart hides underneath a  cloak and jumps out at you from around a corner as abruptly as waking from the dream Gibson is singing about: "Woken up by motions/ you can let all the noise shatter you through/ and all my inspirations / You can let all the noise shatter you through." It's quick, liquid, and one of his best songs yet.

But then there's 'For Every Bite'. It's uninteresting and unengaging; the melody doesn't really go anywhere, it just seems to drag itself along.

'I Let Him Deal' isn't much better. Too much is happening with its background noise over the drums and guitar. The clutter comes to a head on the chorus that's hurried in its delivery, resulting in the album's most nerve-grating moment.

'Shine of the Night' approaches mainstream pop/rock with an appropriately driving rhythm and saxophone solo to highlight the after-hours excitement that radiates from its center. It works, but doesn't quite incorporate the forwardness that 'Lookin' Back on '99' from All Hell managed with ease.

'Back With the Family' ends the album with the off-kilter, warped sound that his debut fully embraced. It's split into two separate melodies, ending with an electric guitar solo and Gibson's deep vocals over a piano. It's a good way to end the album, as it reminds us of what he's good at instead of dwelling on the forgettable parts that came before.

Like the flower it's named for, Carnation blooms when it gets full sun, but doesn't do too well in the shade. On its own it shines a little, but pales within the bouquet of all his work up to this point.

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