A delicate collection of songs for meditation on spiritual struggle, The Leaves Fall is a window into the parallel reality of Justin Carter. Centered on his intimate vocals, pointed with hints of Arthur Russell and John Martyn; the eight tracks are buttressed by warm acoustic guitars, vibraphones, organs and flourished with modern production. They are familiar but distant, like ghosts living in the present. Carter grew up in a country house in rural North Carolina, a place with a pecan tree and abandoned train tracks in the front yard. On long car rides from home to his dadʼs work as a school teacher, his ears were filled with the prog of Yes, the vocals of Al Jarreau and the complexity of Christopher Parkeningʼs take on Bach. It was his father, who himself has moonlighted as a guitar player and songwriter for nearly 50 years, that taught Carter to sing and play in his early teens.
The Leaves Fall was written on and off over the course of about five years, a secret to most. Carter is more familiar, alongside Eamon Harkin, as co-founder of popular New York parties Mister Saturday Night and Mister Sunday, and their label offshoot, Mister Saturday Night Records. As the Mister thrived, his songwriting continued to tick along in the background, days and weeks stolen here and there to write and record in various locations – from remote studios in the Catskills to basements in Venice Beach.
The album features Jason Lindner, pianist on Bowie's final masterpiece, Blackstar; cello from Archie Pelago's Greg Heffernan; and programming by LIES Records and The Trilogy Tapes producer Marcos Cabral. It was mixed by Benjamin Tierney, who also worked his magic on Kamasi Washington's The Epic. It finds its context in the world of Planetarium, a new listening session established by Carter and his Mister Saturday Night DJ partner, Eamon Harkin, where live music is mixed amongst hours of records to create an immersive, communal listening experience focused on quality hi-fi sound in non-traditional spaces; the album will presented in this manner when toured.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see people letting go. My ambition in all my creative work is to make moments where that can happen. As a DJ, I use othersʼ music to create those moments, but itʼs always been in me to make my own music for that purpose. After twenty-five years of writing music for myself, it makes me really happy to have something to share with others.” - Justin Carter