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***Still Life, Carson McHone’s third album and first release with Merge Records, quivers like a tightrope, with songs about existing within such tension and surviving beyond the breaking point. These are stories of sabotage, confusion, and surrender. The album is a testament to the effort of reaching, sometimes flailing, for understanding and for balance. Still Life invites us to gasp at our own reflection and acknowledge the unsettling beauty in this breath. The songs of Still Life were written in quiet moments between tours and recorded away from Texas in Ontario with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Romano. McHone says of the session, “Daniel is a perceptive player, and his response was intuitive and organic. We attacked these songs as a blank canvas. Shadows sharpened and came to life as full vignettes that felt familiar in a magical way, a product of keeping things emotionally open.” Together in a home studio they cut almost the entire record themselves, calling on two friends, the versatile Mark Lalama on accordion, piano, and organ, and David Nardi with some savvy saxophone, to round it out. The phrasing and tones recall John Cale, The Kinks, Richard and Linda Thompson—like-minded artists of the late ’60s and early ’70s, another era of transition and innovation.