Sera Cahoone was over 30 years of age when she recorded her first solo album in 2006, and it's not hard to hear that when you listen to her work -- there's a welcome maturity and a sense of emotional experience in Cahoone's music that rings clear in her voice and her simple but rock-solid melodies, and on her third release, 2012's Deer Creek Canyon, she strikes a lovely balance between the resonance of classic country and folk and the more outgoing approach of contemporary roots music. Six years may have separated Cahoone's Sub Pop debut Only as the Day Is Long and this follow up, but this music never sounds like it was worried over for too long -- if the songs and recordings were clearly crafted with care, they also sound spontaneous and organic, and Cahoone's vocals seem as natural as conversation but with a silky, richly textured beauty that's subtly enchanting. Engineer Thom Monahan (who co-produced the sessions with Cahoone) gives the material a warm, honest sound that's spacious and intimate at once, with the individual instruments giving one another plenty of room while cohering into a whole that's surprisingly powerful, and Jason Kardong's pedal steel guitar and the simple but evocative string charts on several numbers do wonders to make this music tug at the heartstrings.
Some people feel most alive in April, when everything's blooming and heavy with pollen, or in July, when the heat forces off the shackles of human decency and frees us to loll around in full flesh. But I imagine Sera Cahoone is more of a September person. Something about this month, like her songs, is so beautiful and so sad and so right. It's a tricky balance, this feeling.
Sera Cahoone has spent her career flying under the radar. Despite being an integral singer-songwriter in the Seattle music scene, and despite having played with bands like Carissa's Weird and Band of Horses, Cahoone's solo albums have been critically celebrated -- especially 2008's Only As The Day Is Long -- but seemingly heard by few. Her understated knack for Americana-touched folk tunes may account for that, but her carefully detailed and bittersweetly emotive songwriting still deserves more attention than it has received.
I fell in “like” right away with the new record by Seattle singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone. Love, though? Still not quite there. Deer Creek Canyon, Cahoone’s third solo effort, delivers more of the understated indie-country-folk that has made her a fixture in the Seattle scene. (Cahoone first established herself in that city by playing drums for bands like Carissa’s Weird and Band of Horses.) The songs are moody and relatively quiet affairs built around acoustic guitar and rustic accents – banjo and pedal steel.