Photographed by Norman Jean Roy
It is a rarity when an album makes you feel like you are eavesdropping. Such is the case with Carina Round, the British singer/songwriter whose records serve as biographical landmarks, cataloguing indelible stages of her life, which culminate with her fourth album, Tigermending. Set to be released on May 1, Tigermending flexes multiple genres, including pop, blues, and punk while remaining firmly rooted in rock. However, Round’s vision was initially much simpler. “I just want it to sound amazing but raw and transparent emotionally.” Being interviewed while relaxing in her Los Angeles home, Round emanates a natural confidence, embracing her newfound ability to “react to things more purely.”
Round’s first release came in 2001 with The First Blood Mystery, but it wasn’t until she was picked up by Interscope Records and she released The Disconnection in 2004 that the artist adopted a thematic approach to her albums. The Disconnection was an introspective, personal album, letting the listener peek in on Round’s fears and vulnerabilities. In 2006, Slow Motion Addict was on the opposite end of the spectrum; it was brash and fearless, and shed the fragile skin she wore on the previous record. In 2009, Round released the EP, Things You Should Know, which focused more on her strengths and frailties in dealing with love.
The stage is now set for Tigermending, comprised of eleven tracks that break the shackles of her singular emotional focus and embrace a realization that helped mold the album. “There’s a strong backbone in the whole album. You don’t need to make a record that sounds like one song. Even the more cinematic ethereal moments, the humorous moments, they all have a bottom line of a rock record.” With this in mind, Round was free to create a set of tracks that stand apart from one another while remaining true to their rock foundation, like the infectious pop oriented “Marcel Marcel,” the ethereal “Mother’s Pride,” and the experimental, almost psychedelic, “Weird Dreams.” However, the diversity of Round’s current set of songs only partially hints at her growth as an artist.
One of the true benchmarks of a musician’s maturation is not just knowing what to put into a song, but being cognizant of what to leave out. The song that most represents Round’s understanding of this fact is the stripped down, heart wrenching “You and Me,” which was written in an hour and remained unchanged from the first play to the final recording. Lyrically and acoustically simplistic, it reflects the devastation that comes when someone slips through your fingers. However, Round was careful not to let her delicate songwriting and broken heart consume the album, as she balances out “You and Me” with theatrical rock ballads, “Girl and the Ghost” and the gritty “Set Fire.”
What makes Tigermending especially unique from the rest of the work in Round’s discography is the dominant role she played in every aspect of the record’s creation. Round paid for Tigermending herself from recording to PR to the physical production of the album. More importantly, it was the first time she would co-produce one of her albums with Dan Burns, who has worked with the likes of Rob Zombie, Crystal Method and Andrew WK. Burns not only played a vital role in the overall sound of Tigermending, he pulled Round back into a world she was ready to leave.
After Slow Motion Addict, Round left Interscope Records and found herself at a crossroads. “I questioned being a part of the industry. I was feeling uninspired and confused.” Introduced through a mutual friend, Burns quickly convinced Round to write more songs, the first being “For Everything A Reason,” off the Things You Should Know EP. It did not take long for Round to get pulled back in. “I was blown away by the freedom and the sound he created.” As it turns out, Burns played a dual role as producer and teacher; he made Round mix and edit her own tracks, creating the spark that inspired Round to make the five song EP and soon after, Tigermending.
Round does not shy away from crediting Burns with the album’s openness. “His touch when recording, the space he creates. Everything breathes and has a chance to exist. Even if it doesn’t sound perfect, it has a life within the song.” He blurred the lines between artist and producer, which was a new experience for Round. “For the first time, I could achieve the things I heard in my head.” This resulted in her delving into multiple musical genres, which was never part of the original plan. “It wasn’t the goal to embrace all these different styles. That was never a conversation. We just didn’t want to close a door to an idea because it is not what you think it should be.”
As it turns out, Tigermending opens doors, not just to ideas but for new fans to embrace Round’s divergent sounds. And while Round keeps that door open for us to watch as she lets us in on the most intimate aspects of her life, I don’t plan on looking away anytime soon.
Photographed by Norman Jean Roy
Photographed by Kristin Burns