Richard Shindell’s latest album, Careless, represents years of work and growth. Meticulously recorded over three years in Upstate New York and Buenos Aires, Careless might be an anachronism. At a time when the very idea of the album is called into question — when technological developments and listening habits challenge its status as the natural vehicle of an artist’s presentation — Shindell offers us an ambitious, luxurious, full-length statement. Accompanied by co-producer Greg Anderson, engineer and arranger Scott Petito, and a group of A-list musicians, Shindell immersed himself in the studio, taking time to explore, experiment and take risks with each of the eleven songs. While his signature acoustic guitar style is used to good effect, Careless also finds Shindell plugging in. “Returning to the electric guitar has transformed my career,” he says. “The wider sonic and dynamic range of the electric has been a real inspiration.”
Careless also exhibits a wider thematic range, from the terrestrial to celestial. It begins with seven songs whose feet are very much on the ground: the rootsy lope and twang of “Stray Cow Blues;” the epic mea culpa and pop catharsis of the title track; desire both human and insect in “Infrared;” the ruminant, dystopian, blues-grazing “Deer on the Parkway;” the reconciliation of a father and daughter in “All Wide Open;” a vintage instrument infused with the spirit of a prior owner in “Your Guitar;” and “Abbie,” wherein the disappearance of a beloved pet is explained. From there the album directs our attention to the view from above: from the ether of “Atlas Choking,” to heaven itself in “Before You Go,” to geosynchronous orbit in “Satellites.” With its only cover, “The Dome,” the album ends where it began: firmly on the ground, beneath a night sky, wondering, watching, and awaiting clarification.
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