Just when I thought Justin Vernon couldn’t have surprised me anymore, comes along this jaw-dropping session he’s done together with Sean Carey, whose falsetto almost equals Justin’s legendary vocal performance. Among Steinways and tattoos, the beauty of this recording is in the sensibility and magnificence of the arrangements, in the fluctuating structure of its songs from the very first echoes to the very last keys being brushed against. The piano is a side instrument in many of Vernon’s songs, but is central to this particular session. It is strong and quiet, leaving enough room for the clarity of the voices; and for 25 minutes it makes you forget about Vernon’s main instrument, leading you to believe all those tracks you’ve surrounded yourself with in the last couple of years were originally composed, written by him sitting at a Steinway, bouncing fingers on the black and the white, free of strummed and strumming strings.
I spent the last seven days with the Bonnie Raitt cover looming over me like a presage, coming threateningly close; and there’s nothing sadder and more beautiful than to wallow in it for a little while longer.