CD Review: Laura Carbone and the Underground Youth – In Dreams, 4 song Ep (tribute to Roy Orbison)
by Matt Belyea for Country Music News International
Is this a tribute record? Or perhaps a labor of love to an artist of enormous influence to the musician who is recording it? Originally a solo project by Underground Youth member, Craig Dyer, it comes alive when Laura Carbone’s dreamy, ethereal voice comes into play. Explaining her voice is like trying to describe a fine wine, vanilla with hints of spice and berry? She has one of the prettiest voices I’ve listened to in quite a while. The dark-folk-noir of her music that she has honed, over a couple decades of performing has me digging deeper into this Berlin-based, dark songstress’s back catalog, as well as The Underground Youth’s luxuriant sonic landscapes.
The 4 song EP was recorded during Covid where Dyer has planned a solo project but brought Carbone on board and the results of that collaboration sound effortless in their duets on some of Orbison’s most challenging to cover material. Intentional or intimate? The recording has a demo quality to me – perhaps it’s Dyers dry vocals ala Nick Cave that don’t come off well as I had hoped for when compared to Carbone reverb-drenched voice. Despite having been mixed by shoegaze musician – Scott Von Ryper ( of JaMC touring band & the Black Ryders) The mix is up front and center, without much spread, detracting from the overall sound.
Love Hurts: The song begins with Carbone’s vocals setting the stage, with forceful tremolo guitar that sets the mood, and second verse Dyer comes in with his deadpan delivery. The song tries to soar, but Dyer’s bass voice fights Carbone’s operatic flights that are buried beneath him.
In Dreams: Amidst a wash of guitars, Dyer’s monotonic delivery does not encourage getting to the best part of the song but stay with it and the song soars with Carbone and Dyer delivering some of the best vocal harmonies of the EP.
Crying: Lush and beautiful, the arrangement reminds me of early Slowdive. The choral effect of layering of Carbone’s vocal adds wonderful magical feel to the song.
Lonely Wine: Dyer’s up-front cabaret-styled performance is a real departure from the sonic soundscapes of his band, the underground youth.
Listening to this EP opened some exploratory listening opportunities for me, diving into both artists previous work, which is extensive and accessible to music lovers with a taste for diverse work by talented artists. This record was recorded remotely by both artists and I feel it really doesn’t represent either of their best works, but I commend them for pushing outside the boundaries and approaching a project recording songs of a legendary artist such as Orbison.