“Lately I’ve been trying to remember all the things that got me here,” sings Young Man’s Colin Caulfield on “Waterford,” one of many captivating and beautiful tracks on his latest album, Beyond Was All Around Me, which features the 23-year-old singer-songwriter’s most sophisticated, gorgeous and memorable collection of songs yet. Due out April 9, Beyond Was All Around Me is the final installment in the Young Man album trilogy—a song cycle about youth and growing up that Caulfield first conceived in his Chicago dorm room in 2009. After this LP, Caulfield will retire the name Young Man and pursue other musical endeavors.
“Beyond Was All Around Me is the culmination of the entire project,” he says. “I learned a lot of things throughout the writing of this entire project, not only about my experience coming into adulthood but also my experience of being a songwriter.” Though a continuation of the themes on Young Man releases so far, the new album in particular is “centered around this idea that in order to move on and progress in your life, you have to move past or abandon certain things whether that’s childhood itself or a particular relationship. I still wanted it to be a concept album, but I also wanted for it to stand alone, even if you don’t know the back story.”
Caulfield’s music has been praised for it’s “cinematic quality” (NYLON) and his songwriting for being “full of the gentle lyricism and lush, spine-shivering atmospherics” (My Old Kentucky Blog). Fans of 2012’s Vol.1, Caulfield’s first studio album with a full band, called the collection “instrumental poetry with lyrics caressing the edges, in echoes of reverb, psychedelic trips, and meandering wonder” (The Big Takeover) and applauded its “seriously well-crafted shifts between proggy meanderings and pop hooks” (Filter).
Recorded over the course of a month in early 2012 at Brooklyn’s Rare Book Room Studios, Beyond Was All Around Me was produced, engineered and mixed by Nicolas Vernhes, whose albums with Fiery Furnaces, Deerhunter and Dirty Projectors were a big part of what attracted the band to working with him. Caulfield, guitarist Emmett Conway, bassist Joe Bailey, synth player Jeff Graupner and new drummer Darien Williams subletted an apartment within walking distance of the studio in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Caulfield says that living in one space helped them achieve a creative synchronicity they weren’t able to achieve on the previous LP, which had been recorded at home in Chicago. Williams, their new drummer, was only nineteen during sessions for Beyond, so instead of trying in vain to get him into bars when they had time at night they would hang out at home listening to mixes and coming up with different ideas to implement the next day. “Being able to all be in the same place and really live the recording experience was so important for this album,” Caulfield says. “It felt much more organic than recording the last album because of that.”
Another major difference: rather than tracking parts separately, they tried to record as much of the album live as possible, generally laying down a song a day. “We were all always there and available to give an opinion about how things could work better,” says Caulfield. “It was a completely different experience. And we’re really indebted to Nicolas for spurring creativity and having the sense of timing to know when to come into the room and say, ‘Maybe you should try it this way.’”
Though the band went into the studio with some fairly specific ideas for how Beyond should go, those ideas were completely malleable once the five musicians and Vernhes were in the room together. The album encompasses many of the touchstone Young Man sounds—folk, psych, prog, baroque—but applies them to the strongest collection of songs Caulfield has written yet. “I was trying to write songs that were cohesive structurally, in terms of pop standards,” he says, “but also wanted to demonstrate respect and belief in the power of selective indulgence, like at the end of ‘In Time’ or ‘School,’ where the song just goes off and it’s almost exhausting by the end. I still think that’s cool.” He laughs a little. “This album might be the last time I do that for awhile. But I think we did it really well here.”
“Lately I’ve been trying to remember all the things that got me here,” sings Young Man’s Colin Caulfield on “Waterford,” one of many captivating and beautiful tracks on his latest album, Beyond Was...
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