Coyote (2019, Michael Carnes) Album Review

Michael Carnes in an indie folk artist from Knoxville, TN

Currently residing in Athens, GACarnes’ primary roots spawned from a blend of punk music as well as being surrounded by local folk acts in Knoxville, TNMichael is a friend of mine and someone I got to know just as he was in the early stages of his music career back in 2012. As long as I’ve known the guy, he has always been very passionate about music and is a natural humanist. 

Coyote” was written during a distinct period of Carnes’ life.  Having married and moved within the span of less than a year, Carnes recorded this album during a transitional period of his personal and artistic life.  As he has moved forward within this period, Carnes has been reflecting on the kind of person he is, what he stands for, what he like/dislikes, etc.  Carnes is assessing the things in life that frighten him and how that isn’t what has to define his true essence.  Carnes is a person who deeply assesses himself and those around him. He wants to express that it isn’t our upbringing that has to define who we are.  We can become anybody we want to be.  But it takes assessment on the nature that shaped who we are to get to that point.  Carnes is here to tell his past self “I am not you anymore”.  He encourages any of us who have inner frustrations and anger to do the same.

It also must be instated that Carnes recorded all of the instruments within this album.  Except for the cajun in “Drought”.

Michael Carnes with his wife Kayla Carnes

“Burned Up” immediately kicks off the album with a sound that is polished and bare within Carnes’ acoustic grace.  Carnes sounds heavily reflective on his past and is assessing his faith, his music and his spirituality.  The vocal harmony of the final moments speak directly to a mood of feeling ‘burned up’.  A fantastic way to kick off the nature of the album.  “We Built This House” further showcases Carnes reflecting on his past and coming to grips with the fact that just because it’s part of him doesn’t mean it has to define him.  “Emily” comes next to lift our spirits up again with a tune about dreaming up a good life, no matter what hardships the past may have caused.  But “where do we go once the daydreams stop?”, Carnes contemplates in this song.   That is a question any dreamer can perhaps understand.  It’s easy to dream but where do we go once we’re actually out in the real world?  How can we convey the true essence of who we are to the world without past damage getting to the best of us?  “Howell MI” is a beautiful ballad toward love to a woman.  Carnes is contemplating if that special someone can love him for the person he naturally is.  As he confidentially exclaims that he will love her right.

As for the self titled track, Carnes wants to let us all know that we’re not alone in this cold world.  All the disappointment, disgust and defeat we feel inside can be fought.  Carnes displays an electric guitar backing up an otherworldly beautiful sound with his deeply reflective, honest and encouraging lyrics.  It sounds reflective on all of the rough times he’s endured to get to the current chapter of life he is in.  Carnes beautifully fuses his punk and spiritual shades on this track.  He encourages us to fully embrace our own individuality while also looking up to something greater than ourselves to get to that point.  “Gut Punch” returns back to the beautiful electric guitar sound contrasted with his lyrics which further explores trouble he’s faced in the past.  He contrasts feeling defeated within the beauty that he’s found through years of struggle and dedicated soul searching.  “Forgive Me If You Can” continues the theme of moving forward as he exclaims “unfinished business moves on eventually”.  “Halloween Forever” speaks to the natural desire for things to never change, yet that very change is a necessity in order to truly evolve.  Carnes understands this natural wrestle between choosing comfort and necessary sacrifice in order to personally evolve for yourself. “Drought” is that moment of clarity when it’s time to pack up from all that you know and seek a new environment to pursue personal goals and dreams.  What was once purposeful in his home no longer serves a purpose towards moving forward and it’s time to take that leap forward. Carnes encourages us all to do the same.

 It has been quite a pleasure to see how Carnes’ music has evolved over this decade.  And it’s exciting to see where this next chapter will take him and his musical career. So please do yourselves a favor and dive into this wonderful man and his music.  He will also be touring live next year, which we all encourage anyone to take a look at! We will be sure to post his touring schedule whenever that is officially released!

Here is a link to Michael Carnes’ personal statement:

You can listen to “Coyote” on Spotify in the link below:

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