Style: Big-hearted Americana rock; compare to Mumford & Sons, The Decemberists, The Civil Wars
Top tracks: "Live and Die," "The Once and Future Carpenter," "A Father's First Spring"
The Carpenter builds an Americana arts and crafts bungalow: finely crafted, enduringly and organically styled. The album follows the band's 2009 breakout with insightful, ecclesiastical maturity while both rollicking and reflecting. Almost absent are the screams that judiciously punctuated previous work. This collection's angst is bottled into thrasher "Paul Newman vs. The Demons," which wrestles between youthful regret and higher aspirations. More abundant are poetic snapshots and spiritual undercurrents that count the costs of fleeting humanity, seek purpose, and embrace hope with gratitude. "Winter in My Heart" strays into navel-gazing melancholy. But "Life" anchors the album by both recognizing "You and I know all too well / About the hell and paradise right here on earth" and pleading "Faith and promise, keep me honest."1