With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer Laura Carbone received critical praise for a sound that has frequently drawn comparisons to PJ Harvey, Shana Falana, Chelsea Wolfe, St. Vincent and others.
If you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that Carbone and her band were scheduled to go into the studio last May to record what would be he highly-anticipated third album. But unfortunately, as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Carbone’s plans were indefinitely shelved, much like countless other artists and bands across the world at the time.
While she was touring across the European Union to support her first two albums, Carbone and her band appeared on the beloved German live concert series Rockpalast. For Carbone, who grew up in a small, southwestern German town watching Rockpaalst, appearing on the show was the achievement of a lifelong dream: A who’s who list of artists and bands have appeared on the show including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, David Bowie, R.E.M., Echo and the Bunnymen, Screaming Trees, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Charles Bradley and a very lengthy list of others.
Inspired by the lockdowns, Carbone and her band came up with an idea: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Taken from her October 2019 Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn, the Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums.
I had written about three of the live singles:
- “Who’s Gonna Save You,” which found Carbone and her band deftly balancing menace and sultriness, while introducing a rock goddess, you need to know — right now.
- “Cellophane Skin” which found Carbone and company taking the tension of the original and informing with a feral intensity developed while touring. And as a result, the song finds its narrator — and perhaps, even the artist herself — turning into a seductive, yet vengeful force of nature tearing down the bonds of poisonous social norms that have imprisoned her, while demanding that we — men particularly so — examine ourselves.
- “Nightride,” a slow-burning and brooding bit of psychedelia-tinged post punk that sonically and lyrically nods at The Doors “The End” as though covered by PJ Harvey.
Each video from the live session continued Carbone’s ongoing visual collaboration wit Olya Dyer — but the visual for “Nightride” also featured The Underground Youth‘s Carig Dyer as a dark and handsome stranger, who picks up Carbone.
Carbone and The Underground Youth have collaborated on the recently released In Dreams EP, an effort that sees them tackling four Roy Orbison songs, which chart the age-old and universal narrative of falling in and out o love, and the deep yearning for romance and connection we all feel — even if we don’t want to always admit it. (As a personal note, I fucking love Roy Orbison.)
The In Dreams EP shines with its bittersweet blend of a reserved musical background that leaves space for Craig’s earthy voice and Laura’s soaring, ethereal vocals to connect, embrace and unravel again. Centered around sparse and atmospheric arrangements, the EP’s material is roomy enough for Craig Dyer’s earthy baritone and Carbone’s yearning and ethereal vocals to seemingly connect, embrace and unravel throughout.
In Dreams‘ latest single “Crying” finds Dyer and Carbone slowing the tempo down and stripping the song down to its barest elements — shimmering guitar. Dyer’s baritone and Carbone’s achingly tender vocals. Turning the song into a duet, subtly changes the song into a conversation between a couple, who both realize — with some aching bitterness — that their relationship has come to an end, and that there’s nothing much they could do to resolve it. At some point, all of us have been there, and the song’s universality and familiarity is what makes it powerfully transcendent.