Daughn Gibson, “Carnation”
As every musician should, three albums deep into their career, Daughn Gibson (a.k.a Josh Martin) spends Carnation exploring new realms. The Pennsylvania singer-songwriter is so devoted to the task that his defining trait—deep, dramatic, vocals that come dangerously close to cheesy—mostly takes a back seat, until about halfway through the album. Occupying center stage is a tapestry of synth-pop and electronic landscapes that may as well have been one long groove. Most symbolic among those musicians joining Gibson on his journey is Steve Moore, whose creepy prog-rock band Zombi would make for a perfect touring partner behind this record. It’s Carnation’s natural sounds (“Daddy I Cut My Hair”), blaring saxophones (“Shine of the Night”), and wailing guitars (“For Every Bite”) that make this album particularly distinct from Gibson’s past, American Gothic–leaning efforts. Such experimentation is all that should be expected from an undeniably niche artist, and celebrated when it succeeds.