They're all my favorite track. Vocals of a haunting angel with righteous instrumentation. Simultaneously reminds me of Bridget St. John and Ruby Fray with just the slightest inkling of Yanka Dyagileva and Beach House. Incredible, heavenly and illustrious beyond belief.
Favorite track: Cavities.
For a while there, Carolyn Flaherty – who plays music simply as Carol – was something of a self-described “dark lord.” Most people in their early 20s go through something like what she experienced: A transitional period of whirlwind feelings and blank slates. Everything is new; everything is raw. But few capture the anxiety and anguish of that time as Carol did on her debut EP Softest Destroyer, a collection of songs whose dreaminess harbor a lurking, immense darkness, like ghosts circling in the corners of our eyes.
Soiled, Carol’s latest EP, is the blooming, brightening springtime to Softest Destroyer’s long, heavy winter. Written and recorded with producers Ruben Radlauer and Jack Wetmore (Model/Actriz, Dirt Buyer) starting in early 2019, Soiled documents Carol’s journey from her internal depths to the happier and healthier place she is today, resulting in songs that traverse the faded line connecting joy and pain. “Cavities,” the oldest song of the bunch, follows in her first release’s footsteps to explore how numbness can bring about its own ruin. “There’s a sweetness fossilized inside me / And I knew it was gone,” Carol confesses with a soaring falsetto before igniting a funeral march of percussion and strings.
Yet following that overwhelming hollowness came “Comfort Me,” the beating heart and emotional watershed of the EP: “In this chapter of confusion / Dismantle the memory / Synchronize the cyclic pattern / To soil is to comfort me,” Carol sings over gingerly finger-picked acoustic guitars. “I was crying in the shower and then I just sang it,” she explained, noting how writing the song helped reclaim the sense of clarity that had long felt lost. “I was done getting mad at things...and [I was] moving into a greater acceptance,” she said. With this newfound outlook came songs like “Changed to Survive,” an ode to self-perseverance that radiates with joy; not the wide-eyed kind, but one that is mature, a little cautious, and well-earned.
“If you're going through something that's really painful, you have to have some joy along the way or else you can't get out of the pain,” Carol said when reflecting upon the lessons she learned while creating Soiled. “I also don't think you can feel the pain in full unless you can feel the joy in full as well. They're interchangeable a little bit, which is crazy – but they do say that pleasure and pain are pretty similar.” Soiled is a bold and flourishing reminder that happiness and sorrow both have the capacity to be overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean one ever fully eliminates the other. They need each other to survive, and we need both to feel human.
released May 14, 2021
String Quartet is Sean Brennan (cello), Josh Gerrard (violin), Alison Dooley (violin), Huxley Kuhlmann (viola).
String Quartet under the direction of Abby Lim-Kimberg.
Songs by Carolyn Flaherty
Produced by Ruben Radlauer, Jack Wetmore
String Arrangements by Abby Lim-Kimberg (2/5), Sean Brennan (1/3/4/6)
Engineered by Ruben Radlauer, Hayden Ticehurst, Justin Termotto, Michael France, Johnny O’Hagan
Mixed by Ruben Radlauer
Mastered by Zach Bloomstein
Photography by Morganne Boulden
Art Direction & Design: Veronica Lee
Abby Lim-Kimberg - harp
Emma Stacher - bass
Jack Wetmore - electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Raquel Makler - piano (6)
Carolyn Flaherty - vocals, acoustic guitar
Eric Conley - drums, aux percussion
Vocals recorded at Mozart St. Studios. Drums recorded at Studio G. Miscellaneous guitar recorded at Corner Store Studios. All other parts recorded around Bushwick and Ridgewood, NY.
Special thanks to:
Dustin J.S. Watson, Andrew Goldberg, Adriel Kokocinski, David Senecal, Aleksi Goddard, Liz Markow, Raquel Makler and their beautiful piano, Noah Fence, Jannick Frampton, Ryan Howe, Jon Prus, Craig Short, Rob Steiner.
I just discovered this wonderful music in an article about Wolf Trap in the DC area. Great publicity (but quite the opposite for the venue)! This was a principled and necessary stand. Congrats! warren wigutow