Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, photographer and JOVM mainstay Laura Carbone received rapturous critical praise for her first two albums 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea with both albums drawing comparisons to PJ Harvey, Shana Falana, Chelsea Wolfe, St. Vincent and others.
Back in May 2020 Carbone and her band were scheduled to go into the studio to record what would be her highly-anticipated third album. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Carbone’s plans were indefinitely shelved, much like everyone else at the time.
Now, as you may recall, while she was touring across the European Union to support her first tow 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 many, many more.
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, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast was a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums.
She went on to collaborate with The Underground Youth on 2021’s In Dreams EP, an effort that saw the collaborators tackling four Roy Orbison songs, which chart the age-old and universal narrative of falling in and out of love, and the deep yearning for romance and connection we all feel — even if we don’t want to always admit it. Featuring material built around sparse, atmospheric arrangements, the EP’s songs allow room for The Underground Youth’s Craig Dyer’s earthy baritone and Carbone’s ethereal and yearning delivery to connect, embrace and unravel with each song.
Carbone’s long-anticipated fourth album The Cycle is slated for release next year. The album is a concept album that explores the emotional turmoils, triumphs and transformative experiences that the album’s protagonist experiences through the seasons of a year. Keeping with the album’s concept, over the course of the next year, Carbone and her band will release a new single every season until the album’s release next spring. Each single represents an experience or inspiration associated with that particular season and the story of the album’s protagonist.
The Cycle‘s second and latest single “Horses” is a slow-burning, msong built around lush and shimmering acoustic guitar, Carbone’s expressive and yearning delivery, paired with a supple bass line and dramatic drumming. Sonically bringing PJ Harvey’s “You Said Something” to mind, the song is set in the fullness of summer. The song’s protagonist is experiencing the heat, humidity and passion of the season — when fields become gold and heatwaves and wildfires turn them into ash. But there’s a reminder that Mother Earth will restore and reclaim burnt ground in time.
“Blackened fields unfold up blackened hills, and border off in the distance up against blackened mountains,” the Berlin-based JOVM mainstay writes. “Ashes fall, the wipers on slow, smear the soot across the wet windshield, and the steam rising from burnt trees in the misty rain mixes with the fog rising from the burnt ground. The smell of yesterday’s smoke and today’s damp earth is pungent and thick, and somehow oddly comforting. A landscape of endless green and gold has been rendered monotone, like a 1950s TV, where all is now black except for the gray, cloudy sky. No signs of life here aside from the odd bird flying by, screeching as it comments from on high, ‘Don’t hold on.’ The horses, they knew this. They ran. From the first whiff of smoke, they knew there’s no point in holding onto something you can never control, you can’t negotiate with, something that’s lost. They’ll be back, in time. When the earth heals and life returns, so will they. But they’ll never stop running. They’re wild horses. That’s what they do”