The cover of "Golden Candle"
The cover of "Golden Candle"Courtesy Carr and Company

Carr and Company preserve hope amid the chaos

The improvisational music project, which melds poetry with jazz and post-rock, will celebrate the release of its new EP in concert at Kafe Kerouac on Saturday, June 8.

The first Carr and Company EP found Evan Carr reciting his poetry over a musical backdrop steeped in folk-rock. The band’s new EP, Golden Candle, takes a decidedly more chaotic turn by comparison, the collective surrounding Carr’s words with a mix of swirling free jazz and towering post-rock – a noisier evolution that Carr said has its roots in a mix of inner-turmoil and outward noise, with the poet confronting a world that has grown increasingly tumultuous. 

The title track, for instance, is rooted both in Carr’s questioning of his spiritual beliefs and the reality that we live in an increasingly divided society. “Have you heard they have a better God,” he recites amid burnished, buzzing guitar courtesy David Lawler and Caleb Miller’s winding saxophone, “anywhere but here?”

Elsewhere, Carr spends more time lingering within. The piano-laced “Black Crow” explores themes of guilt and forgiveness, while a pair of songs – “Formless” and “Golden Candle” – touch on the afterlife and what might exist beyond this world. The reflective “Letters to a Young Poet,” meanwhile, centers the idea of writing as craft and the importance of learning to hold to the person you are as you make your way through this life.

“Write what has been written upon your heart,” Carr says, his voice afloat in sparsely twinkling keys and Tony Kunkler’s muted heartbeat drums. “Write until you digress and then write more/Whatever is inside you must be brought forth.”

“I do think this continual process of writing has been very therapeutic for me along the way,” said Carr, who will join bandmates Lawler, Miller and Kunkler for an EP release show at Kafe Kerouac on Saturday, June 8. “[‘Letters to a Young Poet’], I see that one as very self-reflective. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself and fighting to try and find yourself in the midst of all of the chaos that is around us.”

In Debris – a comparatively crushing post-rock duo in which Carr plays drums and Lawler handles guitars and vocals – the two musicians take a decidedly more acidic view of their surroundings. “It’s my way of satirizing this weird, human compulsion. Maybe it comes out of anger and frustration, like, ‘Why would you do that? That doesn’t make any rational sense,’” Lawler said of Debris’ latest album in April. “And I spend too much time doom scrolling the news, so there’s no lack of inspiration.”

Carr and Company, in contrast, finds, um, Carr and company navigating these darkened surroundings while maintaining some degree of optimism. “There’s a tone or color to Evan’s poetry that’s melancholy but also hopeful,” said Lawler, who would receive Carr’s poems and then create a framework for a song, later working alongside Miller and Kunkler to flesh it out more fully, with the three players occasionally leaning into improvisation. “On ‘Letters,’ we really just improvised, and that’s what came out in the moment between all of us. Having Caleb in there really adds a frenetic flavor to everything, and that’s been a lot of fun to explore. It just worked out really well”

Carr traced some of the more personal slant in the songs to his start in writing, recalling how in high school he would jot down his inner-most thoughts and feelings in a journal. Over time, these entries started to take on more structure, eventually becoming poems that he would perform at open mics in college. In the years since, he’s worked to combine this interest with his passion for music, developing Carr and Company as a space where these two creative halves can develop a sense of unity.

“I’ve just found this works best for me,” said Carr, who took inspiration for the project from wordier post-rock bands such as Slint. “Rather than going out there and being a poet on my own, I really like working with musicians and other people to bring the verses to life.”

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