Luray’s Shannon Carey is enjoying this moment in her career. The Rolling Stone covers haven’t started coming in yet and she’s not doing duets with Taylor or Miley, so when it comes to her songwriting, she feels free to dig as deep as she can possibly go. That was evident on the band’s last album, The Wilder, and more of the same is expected for the Washington, D.C. group’s next full-length record, expected sometime in 2016.
“This is the good thing about not being famous,” Carey laughs. “You kind of think that people really won’t hear it anyway, and so it’s then ‘why not just put it out there?’ And if this is something that you think is good and you like, and it’s something you’re expressing, in a way you don’t have to worry about (internet) trolls at the moment.”
So once she and her bandmates hit “the big time,” it’s off to write party anthems for the club crowd?
“Who knows?” she laughs. “I’ll just be on a yacht somewhere, so I’ll be writing sea shanties or something.”
Hopefully it won’t come to that, and while we can hope she gets her yacht, we have to also hope that she stays true to the music that’s gotten her to the dance so far. Some of Luray’s music can simultaneously tug at the heartstrings while punching you in the gut, and that’s not about to change on the next album.
“I went through a break-up, I went through a divorce since then (The Wilder album), so there are definitely some heartache songs on the record,” Carey said. “The first album was about finding myself and trying to think about what would be worth writing about. And I think the second album, those are the songs that had to be written to process through the lost relationship.”
One of the tracks, “Sandcastle Man,” is part of a three-song EP available on November 17, but as Carey points out, it’s not about the aforementioned break-up.
“‘Sandcastle Man’ is quite hopeful and it’s kind of a fable about love and finding family,” she said. “But it (the new album) has definitely got some depressing songs, to be sure. It’s what comes out, and you just have to go with it.”
I’ve heard enough songwriters say it to believe that writing about the tough times is cathartic in a way, but while Carey’s music has always been personal, there are matters she won’t put to vinyl, mainly because she wants to keep the songs universal to those who may be going through the same trials.
“There are definitely a couple songs that I wrote that I maybe shared with one or two people, but it wasn’t something I was going to make into a song for the record,” she said. “Sometimes with songs, there’s something too vulnerable about it. And sometimes the lyrics in those can be a little more on the nose, and even when I do write about losing something, I still want it to be applicable, not just to me. They’re personal, but I want it to be something that other people could relate to, and I don’t want to be too exposing to myself or to the other person. What I’m trying to do is hit things that everybody has gone through in one way or another.”
And while the previous paragraphs point to some dark times in her life, Carey is not an all black-wearing doom and gloomer. She’s actually one of the most pleasant people you’ll deal with in the music business, and this paradox is evident in the music as well, because as we discussed the last time we caught up with her, the initial hook for Luray used to be that Careywas a banjo-wielding songstress. But people who listened to her music quickly realized that this was not a bluegrass fest.
“It may have hurt me, because people that come out to see banjo aren’t getting what they expect,” she said. “And even more so now, our show is even more ambient. It has banjo in it, but it’s not anything close to country music. I think people are more surprised than anything, and I guess I’m always trying to combat that. But in a way, I still like that it makes us unique and I still think that it has something to offer, but it could go up against people’s expectations.”
There’s nothing wrong with busting stereotypes. Luray and Shannon Carey prove it, and they hope to keep on doing it on tour now and well into 2016 and beyond.
“I’m hoping to have the record sound like it is in my head, and I want to keep on exposing the music to new audiences and showing it to people and playing as much as we can,” Carey said. “I want us to keep moving forward, and having new stuff out there is great for that because it just really gives everybody new energy. So I’m really excited for that.”
Luray plays The Living Room in Brooklyn tonight, November 14. For more information, click here