You could argue that to make truly great music a musician has to go through pain. Without experiencing the pain songs can ring false, sound like a love poem written by someone who has never been in love. Pain, it would seem, gives them a depth of experience, and a new perspective, which allows them to make songs that are relatable, poignant, and authentic. If pain is truly a prerequisite for great songwriting, Ezra Carey should be the Shakespeare of song. The journey to his first album, Though the Fire Keeps Us Warm, sounds like the second half of an episode of Behind the Music. Fortunately for Carey his troubles seem to be behind him, and with the album’s pending release his future seems to be bright.
Ezra Carey’s pain started after he graduated from college. He played coffee shops and bars around Portland, OR to make ends meet. His father was hospitalized for over three years, ultimately dying on Thanksgiving. Like many before him, to cope with the pain Carey turned to pills and booze. Eventually even those wouldn’t keep the pain at bay, so he took an extra large dose in an attempt to escape it forever. His girlfriend heard his heart stop beating and managed to revive him, but couldn’t deal with the aftermath. When she left he was forced to deal with his problems, alone, and he decided to fix them. Rather than escape the pain, he would exorcise it by writing songs about it, letting it go through music. Thus was born Though the Fire Keeps Us Warm.
With this story as the backdrop, you’d expect the album to be full of self pity, but it’s not. The songs acknowledge his problems, but manage to exude persistence and hope for the future. They ring with a depth of emotion that’s impossible to fake. You can hear in his lyrics and vocals that he has lived every bit of it, but is determined to go on.