Photo: Jake Cunningham
Virginia-based folk band Luray is the vehicle of songwriter Shannon Carey. The group’s debut record The Wilder is a nuanced and subtly-shifting atmosphere for Carey’s voice and lyrics. Her lyrics are vulnerable and intuitive, complimenting the warm sweetness of her music, which lies somewhere between Sufjan Stevens and The Sundays. The songs on The Wilder are textural and melodic, containing a beautiful moment of ambiance for every penetrating hook.
Luray’s upcoming sophomore album was recorded by S. Carey (of Bon Iver), and is scheduled for release later this year. From what I’ve heard, it’s more dynamic and experimental.
After opening dates for Julien Baker, Luray embarks on a tour that leads them to Fayetteville on Saturday, Aug. 12 for a show at Stage Eighteen. I talked to Shannon before their tour and here it goes:
Who: Luray / Tiffany Lee / Thunder Comfort
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12
Where: Stage Eighteen, 18 E Center St, Fayetteville
Cost: $7 in advance / $10 at the door
Info: All-ages show
How would you describe your band to a stranger?
I would say it’s melodic, catchy songs performed on banjo, with a layered, ambient vibe from the guitar, bass and drums that’s super-interesting, weird, and pretty.
The Wilder came out in 2013, and you’re about to release a new record. What’s been happening for the band in the last few years and how has it affected your music?
The band has really been formed since that time. The Wilder was created and recorded before I met the current band members I play with now. It was my first record, and I had just moved out East to really pursue music and I didn’t want to wait – I wanted to write and record the songs, and get them out there. I had a lot of help from my brother, Sean, and other members of his band, S.Carey. After I recorded the songs, I began playing them live and reached out to the musicians I play with now – they happened to live in Richmond and I lived in DC, so we had a lot of commuting to rehearse – it was interesting. After a couple of years (and going through a divorce in 2015) I moved down to Richmond, too. Since that time we recorded the second record and have been preparing to release it.
What can you share about your upcoming record?
Classic break-up record! Not really, it’s pretty understated actually, and it’s about finding what’s true for me, and being brave enough to follow through on that. It sounds so easy, but it’s not. The record was recorded in this really cool way, in a small studio in Wisconsin over the course of about two weeks, where the band lived and worked on it – and it turned out to be a really intimate experience for all of us. I had literally finalized my divorce the month we recorded the record, and felt a little upside down. There’s a cautious sadness and happiness in the record, for sure.
What have you been reading lately? What’s the last book you’ve loved that has snuck into a song?
I read a lot. Especially liked ‘Awakenings’ by Oliver Sacks – he studies the brain and is an amazing writer too. Two of the songs on the new record- ‘Animal’ and ‘Green and Golden’ have some lyrics and words inspired by poets, Dylan Thomas and E.E. Cummings. I was reading them here and there for inspiration while I was writing those lyrics.
Are there any unexpected influences for you as a songwriter? Anyone you’d like to shout out to for the first time?
Anais Mitchell is a huge one. Love her music and lyrics. That’s not that unexpected though — her music is akin to what I write. Unexpected I guess might be Phil Collins, I’ve been a nerdy fan of his since I was a kid.
What’s the last record you bought?
Currently obsessed with ‘Modern Country’ by William Tyler, though it’s from 2016, I came across it a few months ago and have listened to it a ton.
Luray is about to tour – what’s your favorite part of touring?
My favorite part of touring is meeting the people who come out, and discovering how cool people are who love live music and support us traveling independent musicians. Always inspiring.
Have you been to Fayetteville before?
Have never been but I have a good friend here in DC from Arkansas who has always sung its praises!
Do you have a joke that is safe to tell to an Arkansas-based news and entertainment website?
Our drummer CJ is the joke teller, but I’m the kind of person who does not remember a single joke! Even the ones about banjos, and believe me there are a lot.