After playing at SXSW, local folk singer-songwriter Jack Carty follows his 2012 Break Your Own Heart with The Predictable Crisis of Modern Life. The EP is a collaborative project with local producer Casual Psychotic and throughout, with impassioned conviction, Carty reinforces his music’s central themes of failed love and the anxiety of staying true to one’s beliefs.

Brimming with increased maturity and self-assurance, the opening track, ‘What Does Your Heart Say’ tells a narrative of unrequited longing. The braying guitar solo adds a lusty bite as Carty sings, “I can be an island or an ocean that surrounds.” Reflective, unafraid to show his vulnerability, on ‘Tunnel Vision’ we hear the dreamer who refuses to exalt in nostalgia. “I ain’t ever looking back again,” he trills, while delicate acoustic guitars waft in a haze of looped echoes and understated electronic touches. There is a strong personal element to The Predictable Crisis, evident in ‘Strung Along’, a futile romantic encounter where Carty’s tone carries a disdain that is complemented by crunching, grungy guitars.

 

Unfortunately, the record’s message is hindered by the recurrent use of TV voice-over commentary. Featured on half the tracks, it’s a clichéd technique over-used by artists like Bright Eyes. This is a minor slight, and on the freewheeling folk anthem ‘Reasons To Be Afraid’, Carty illustrates his talent for combining insightful lyrics, rousing passion and endearing melodies. Coming in at nearly seven minutes, it’s ambitious yet simple, and exemplifies his songwriting talent.

 

The Predictable Crisis of Modern Life is a step forward in Jack Carty’s evolution into an important singer-songwriter who strives to provoke his listeners to reflect on who they are and what they want to be.

3.5/5 stars

 

BY LARRY LAI 

 

Out now on Gigpiglet/Inertia.

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