Carly Thomas genre-bends her truth in a brave new full length record, ‘Behind the Ficus’

Carly Thomas hasn’t quite figured out how to sit still. Inspiration has come with many departures and turning points, but during a difficult 2020 of staying put and digging into some “songs that got away”, this blossoming artist has arrived.

Throughout her celebrated career, the award-winning singer/songwriter has been turning her most beautiful– and most difficult– moments into evocative songs about love, pain, loss and hope, providing a soundtrack for the human experience.

Behind The Ficus is Carly’s third full-length album, following 2003’s Distance and 2009’s Up This High. She released her acclaimed Explode EP in 2014, as well as acoustic arrangements of her most popular songs on 2017’s Versions.

Behind The Ficus is rich in imagery of Parisian train stations, Toronto rooftops, coastal vistas, and gritty middle America highways. It is those distinctly different backdrops that bring a varied, yet cohesive, feel to the record. Along the way she guides the listener, thoughtfully through her stories of love, growth, impermanence and in finding home in unexpected places. Proving time and again that the darkest moments can provide the brightest revelations.

While Behind The Ficus pays homage to Carly’s indie rock roots (September, Carolina) and draws from the rich history of American folk music (Impossible Bottle, Stay With Me, Empty Room), the album also branches into exciting new musical territory. Production began in early 2020 alongside producer Kyle Ashbourne (London, ON), infusing lush soundscapes and a dark pop vibe into songs including Train Station, Can I Be The Fire, Front Row, and others. Together, they represent not only a brave and very personal collection, but the expression of a self-assured artist with a clear musical vision.

The collection of songs is a lyrical evolution for Carly as well. While she has always been known as an evocative and insightful writer, her new songs offer both an intense vulnerability and immediate resonance. They reveal an evolved and seasoned artist who has come to grips with what she wants to say. As she sings on Carolina, “I’ve been afraid to light up, and I don’t want to live that way.”

Behind The Ficus is Carly laid emotionally bare. Poignant, poetic and even whimsical, the album is both a confession and an encouragement to listeners to face and reveal their own truth.
All 11 songs are delivered in Carly’s strong, clear voice – which is always thick with emotion. During the opening line of her first single “Stay With Me”, we hear a clear and disarming cadence creating an instant connection to the minimalist Americana ballad.

Having cut her teeth initially in the folk clubs of Manhattan as a teenager, Carly has since performed extensively around Canada, the United States, and Europe, charming audiences with her charismatic stage presence and quirky storytelling. She spent her childhood and adolescence being constantly uprooted to locales all over the the globe. This nomadic upbringing groomed Carly for a certain comfort, adaptability and passion for the road. It’s also given her a sense of perspective and a sense of wanderlust which she uses to good advantage in her art. Whether she is playing to 20 people in a coffee house or to thousands with her full band on a festival stage, she has way of captivating and connecting authentically, taking us on a beautiful musical journey.

As the world re-opens to live music, Carly Thomas is poised for the next level. Behind The Ficus is a statement of her firm intent: it’s time to be even more vulnerable, even more hopeful, even more real.

It’s time to dive in.

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