The Looking

The Looking

 New York City, New York, USA

Ever wondered what Ol Man River would sound like with an electric guitar? Or what if Pink Floyd had written a lullaby? The Looking vividly reanimate American folk-rock through a prismatic background: conservatory opera, psychedelia, country,and outstanding abilities as a multi-instrumentalist.


The Looking (AKA Todd Carter) is a NYC-based singer, producer and composer. Both his music and voice blend Americana, folk, classical and rock influences, creating something uniquely his. Most recently, Todd has released Song for a Traveler a CD of old American folk, spirituals and blues tunes.

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen."
--Benjamin Disraeli

Todd Carter grew up in Carmel, a suburb just north of Indianapolis. Like almost all kids growing up in America, his earliest musical memories came drifting through the airwaves in the back seat of his parents car.

It was the heyday of classic 70's radio, with bands like Wings and Bread and America, Carter remembers. "It wasn't long before I was clipping those dodgy Columbia House music club ads out of magazines and secretly sending away for cassette tapes of Iron Maiden and Foreigner. I loved hiding thisactivity from the rest of my family,smuggling the precious contraband from mailbox to bedroom. There's just something magical about listening to music on the sly... it was like finding messages in a bottle, but instead they arrived in little plastic cases."

His fate sealed in shrink-wrap, Carter eventually traded his football helmet for a microphone.With some friends we formed a local rock band in Carmel, Carter says. We won the battle of the bands during my senior year in high school, and that was it --- I was absolutely consumed with music.

I focused my studies on philosophy and music and played in all kinds of bands in college, and it was there that I began to study voice, Carter says. My first voice teacher said, Why arent you in the opera program? You have an operatic voice. My response was a tough, Really? I sing punk rock, man.

Yet it became those two seemingly disparate worlds that Carter melded together to form the Looking. Carter's soaring vocals on indie epics like Revolt, I Do (Tin Can Head, 2005) and Causeway (Cabinet of Curiosities, 2009) imbue the songs with an individual edge. Its heady stuff, especially for fans of Carters beloved jangly 80s and 90s British-by-way-of-the-Byrds rock, and though perhaps more delicate, that unique blend of elements glistens on the latest record as well.

Theres a familiar sound in the guitars that's comforting, and a psychedelic presence in songs like River of Pines. It'sreminiscent of Pop,even though its an old 19thcentury Wisconsin logger song, Carter explains.

Therein lies the twist ofSongs for a Traveler, a story discovered by way of the journey. The album is an adventurous tour through unexpected cover songs from far afield. Listeners will undoubtedly be familiar with some, with others refreshingly unexpected. All of them bear the distinct imprint of the Looking.

The arrangement of the song list is organic in terms of intensity and feel, with each song seductively moving into the next, Carter says. I thought about it as more of a complete document instead of each song being an individual journey, though by listening you'll discover that in fact they are standing quite tall on their own. The first song (All the Pretty Horses) is a lullaby made famous by Odetta. I kept hearing an up beat drum part under the basic melody. The originality of this version really comes from the intensity of the drums, the guitar parts and the vocal delivery. The second song, 900 Miles, was challenging because there are some incredible versions of that song out there. River of Pines, is a wonderful old ballad and I kept hearing this REM-esque guitar lick that became the opening of the song.

Carter has taken some bold moves in his interpretation of these timeless songs.Wayfaring Stranger has been made famous by so many people, but I think we did it justice. That and Long Black Veil are a little more rocking than people are used to, Carter says. Long Black Veil loses a bit of the sadness at the heart of the song, but we wanted to make our version distinct. There is theres some happiness to be found in the story of death in this song, a sweet kind of release in knowing that this woman is still crying for him. Its one of my favorite songs on the record and it was born during a rehearsal. I knew the chord progression and I knew the harmony, but it was just jamming with the guys that took it where the song wanted to go. You may notice that the drummer never plays a crash cymbal, staying instead on the hi-hat the whole time, resulting in a beautiful grounding."

Carter producedSongs for a Traveler. He selected the material, road tested it and either arranged or co-arranged every single track. Yet one of the albums undeniable delights is the keen interplay between the musicians.The basic tracks were recorded live off the floor, Carter says. On Sail Around, for example, the vocal is completely live. Thats what we


I'm Your Labyrinth

Written By: Todd Carter

Hidden softness, never spoken…
Never wishing to be spoken.
This silence hides other things,
Like receptive bullrushes and dying crows.
Cracked ice in sunshine,
An oar out of season,
Incantations singing stillness,
Elation colors the moon.

My mouth is deranged and dry.
The first from helplessness,
The second from lying.
Tenderness stops no pain,
Cessates no decay of this form;
Crystalline and pure,
Then misshapen, grotesque:
Undecided, always a question,
Like a god who waits.

This human form goes away,
Disintegrates, transposed by fate.
The unknown voice speaks the dark:
"I'm your labyrinth
The one divined in every way
I watch the kindness of time
A transparent bridge eternal
Like a mime moving slowly."

The Silver

Written By: Todd Carter and Camomile Hixon

Speak my love, speak your insides out and vanquish
What you forget about the unspoken language

Where eyes are made of light they dream the fated
Hemispheres appear life created

Every now and then, the flicker of the sun
Every now and then, the shimmering water
The Silver

Walking on the air, visions faster than the wind
Echo through the hours

Her silver shines in the distance
Siren’s wail makes you witness

Moving now, running from the same things
Moving through the air, the sky, the trees

Careful now, don’t splinter glass to pieces
Careful now with me

The silver in your eyes…


Written By: Todd Carter

Lele (Carter)

Leaving Hana
In a rental car
Sleeping boy in the back
Black rock sand
Stone piles
Set against the blue sky
Shifting rock
When the waves come in
Underbelly in the sun
Volcano run
Stench in air
A dead shark with a hook in her mouth

Call me a stranger
I’m killing time before the end
Let me breathe my death
I see silence speaks
Let me kiss myself

Tara mantra
Unknown friends
Lele is your name
Eyes fading
Marble dark
Against your shades of gray