This September, Elise Davis returns with her sophomore album Cactus, the follow up to her 2016 critically-acclaimed debut The Token. With Cactus, Elise moves between lush alt-country and stripped-down folk confessionals, gluing everything together with story-driven songs about independence, liberation, and resilience as an adult woman.
Today, Davis shares “Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” the first single from Cactus that was co-written with Maren Morris and Frank Romano. NPR Music‘s Brittney McKenna said, “‘Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ is downright buoyant, flirting with pop melodies and allowing more room for Davis to go big with her formidable voice.”
“On my new record Cactusthere is a heavy theme of feeling like a lone wolf, independent, and sexually liberated,” explains Davis. “‘Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ ties into that theme being a song simply about the desire to be involved with someone but keep it light, casual, and sexy.”
For Cactus, Davis tappedproducer Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs, Birdcloud’s Jasmin Kaset) to helm her most personal work to date. The two worked together for six months straight, holed up in Lehning’s home studio, looking to albums like Tom Petty’s Wildflowers and Aimee Mann’s Mental Illness for inspiration. Davis’ melodies remain at the forefront of every mix, her voice honest and unflinching, stripped free of the reverb that had swirled its way throughout The Token.
“Cacti are independent plants that sustain themselves,” explains Davis about the new album. “They can be beautiful with bright-colored flowers on them, but if you touch them, they will hurt you. I see a lot of parallels with the way I have felt most of my life. It felt like the perfect album title for these songs.”
“I had a dream that we were doing hard drugs in a street alley” is a hell of a line to kick off a song, and seems emblematic of your typical rock and roll band. But SUSTO are far from the typical. The Charleston five-piece covers vast sonic ground on their new album & I’m Fine Today, swaying between country-tinged rock (“Cosmic Cowboy”), contemplative pop ballads (“Mountain Top”), and any number of other genres that exist somewhere within the expansive fabric of Southern music. But lead single “Hard Drugs” is perhaps most typical of their nakedly honest, narrative approach to songwriting, covering themes of heartbreak and loneliness with an added dose of creative flair.
“& I’m Fine Today is our most earnest effort to create unique emotional soundscapes…
…while speaking candidly and openly about the realities of existence,” the band tells Consequence of Sound. “We are a group of people, touring musicians, who feel privileged to do what we do and we have given all of our energy to create an album that captures both the pain and beauty of being human.”
It can seem like a pretty hopeless world out there sometimes, but this is the kind of music that just hits in the right way on those long, dark nights of the soul. Hell, it might even make you laugh when you’re done moppin’ up those tears.
…The single “Hard Drugs” is a Gram Parsons flavored number that is as painfully self-conscious as it is tongue-in-cheek wry. A song about the negative side of drugs hasn’t been done this well since “Sister Morphine.” “I’m just glad that I found you, sorry that I couldn’t keep you around” is a beautifully bittersweet line.
“Far Out Feeling” features soulful strings and backing vocals that harken to Philadelphia circa 1974, like an outtake from Young Americans. “Gay in the South” eschews subtlety for a hard-hitting take on a world that still can’t readily accept differences. “Tell the truth unless you think you should lie,” is a rather straightforward, non-judgmental, albeit resigned piece of advice for those struggling with self-identity issues. Hard to believe in today’s atmosphere that my fellow Yanks could’ve been so naïve as to think that the battle for civil rights was over, but we’re nothing if not a nation content with simple answers to complex problems.
“Mystery Man” has a feel like the Golden Age of laid-back SoCal music that would flourish into the adult contemporary genre. That’s not meant as an insult. Despite the stereotyped image of cheesy, overproduced, oft-misogynistic love songs by acts like The Eagles or post-Peter-Green era Fleetwood Mac, there were also a lot of really good songs made under that nauseating umbrella term.
On the uptempo “Waves,” Osbornes sings about “smoking weed with God,” a line that points at both the spiritual and hippie vibe that runs throughout this navel-gazing effort. & I’m Fine Today is not only a wink-wink cynical line but also a spot-on summary of the mood of this album.
Rare Feeling marks the label debut of Twain, a project led by former the Low Anthem and Spirit Family Reunion multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson, who’s persevered with Twain as a passion project since the mid-2000s. Having a breakthrough year of sorts in 2017, he not only scored a record deal with Austin-based Keeled Scales, but found himself on tour with the likes of Big Thief, Langhorne Slim, and the Deslondes.
Combining a distinctively brittle, blues-imbued vocal delivery with sweet melodies and a poetically homespun way with words, Davidson is a singer who, enjoy him or not, makes a lasting impression. He’s joined on the album by bassist Ken Woodward and drummer Peter Pezzimenti, prior collaborators who are credited here as bandmates.
Also an expressive guitarist, Davidson opens the album with a delicate electric guitar lullaby to the lonely, “Solar Pilgrim.” Spare drums, bass, and strings join in later as Davidson imagines the day he’ll die: “But till then, I’m still healthy/Sitting in the morning sun/And no one around to sit down next to me.” Elsewhere, “Hank + Georgia” explores more unconventional harmonic progressions, while the quirky cowboy country of “Little Dog Mind” has a lusher arrangement, adding slide guitar, ornamental keys, group backing vocals, lively drums, country bass, and polyrhythms to the opening acoustic rhythm guitar. The song captures a one-sided conversation between Davidson’s own heart and mind (“You’re just like a little dog/Running away from me”).
Throughout, the album surprises with lyrics, performances, and musical developments without sacrificing its melodious throughline. Officially Twain’s sixth LP, it delivers on the promise of prior releases and with any luck will result in some reissues.
Drought, poverty and dirt defined America’s southern plains in the 1930s. Folks who depended on the land for survival were devastated by monstrous clouds of dust that swept across the region between 1932 and 1940, killing crops and livestock. Already reeling from the worst economic disaster of the early 20th century, residents, primarily of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, found themselves facing an environmental disaster of epic proportions.
Roots singer/songwriter Grant Maloy Smith reflects on their experiences with his new album “Dust Bowl – American Stories” (Suburban Cowboy Records). With 13 tracks, the album tells personal stories about enduring love, lost love, leaving home and, in some cases, staying home and fighting to survive. Some ballads are sadly beautiful, while others are as gritty as the Dust Bowl itself, and others uplifting.
“There were many factors that led to the Dust Bowl, but a seemingly-endless drought combined with over-farming and poor land management stressed the earth and contributed to one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th century,” Smith said. “Those same topics resonate today. My album is a cautionary tale, but it’s also about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great adversity.”
The signature song, “Old Black Roller,” derives its title from the nickname given to sky-high walls of choking dust. Like an approaching storm, the song begins slowly and builds to a crescendo. A more rocking version returns at the end of the album, as if to warn the listener that Mother Nature isn’t finished yet.
The first single from Smith’s album being released to radio, “I Come From America,” celebrates the diversity and strength of farm families forced to flee their homes, many of them relocating to California. (“We’re the desperate and unwanted, We’re the strangers from the shanty side of town, Do my eyes look proud but haunted? That’s the destiny in me, That’s the Texas that you see.”)
Jaime Wyatt’s life story is about as country as it gets. After a recording contract fell through when she was 17, Wyatt developed a drug problem that ended in her robbing her dealer and going to jail. She spent eight months in county jail and came out the other side with a new lease on life—along with the seven tracks that constitute Felony Blues. Those include a cover of Merle Haggard’s “Misery and Gin” and the original composition “Stone Hotel,” an exuberant track about making peace with jail life (“Time holds still at the stone hotel / three free meals on the county bill.
Wyatt was born in Los Angeles but grew up in rural Washington, near Seattle. Country music was a big part of life for her family; distant relatives on her mom’s side even lived in Bakersfield. The capital of California country music’s influence can be heard throughout Felony Blues.
“My mother’s extended family played country in Bakersfield. I never knew that, I was just always drawn to that kind of singing,” Wyatt says of her distinctive twang. “I remember seeing a pedal steel in their trailer, their double wide.”
For all intents and purposes Wyatt is outlaw country through and through. “I just like to take country and fuck it up” she tells me, paraphrasing Shooter Jennings, a good friend of hers. “I try not to get too frustrated with labels on that. I do think it’s funny that the outlaw country thing is so big right now, calling it that even is funny. Most folks don’t know about living outside of the law.”
Cahoone readies for first full-band tour in 5 years!
We’re very excited to announce that Sera Cahoone is heading out on tour this September! This past year has seen her touring with the likes of Tift Merrit, Son Volt and Gregory Alan Isakov but now she’s ready to strike out on with her full band in tow to support From Where I Started.
We had some wonderful press for the album including the NPR First Listen Stephen Thompson wrote up here and CBC’s First Play here. This fantastic interview on Uproxx, a glowing No Depression review, this piece on LGTBQNation referencing the interview Cahoone had with Jewly Hight for NPR’s Songs We Love, Elle Magazine’s ’10 Best New Songs’ of March and a great American Songwriter piece. Beyond that Sera’s album received high praise from the Bluegrass Situation, Saving Country Music, Curve Magazine, KEXP, Paste, The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Weekly and a ton more.
The world of American roots music is no stranger to Seattle songwriter Sera Cahoone. Even though her last three albums were on Sub Pop Records and she spent years at the top of the indie charts, she’s always had a streak of Americana that ran through her music, a love of the humble folk song that bolstered her art. She’s returning now to these earliest influences with her new album, From Where I Started (to be released March 24, 2017). Growing up, Cahoone first found her voice in Colorado dive bars, backing up old blues musicians at age 12 on the drums. Her father, a Rocky Mountain dynamite salesman, took the family along to mining conferences and old honky-tonks in the state. The sounds she heard there—the twang of country crooners, cowboy boots on peanut shells—have stayed with her all the way to Seattle, where she lives now, and the seminal indie rock bands she’s been a part of in the city (Carissa’s Weird, Band of Horses).
To make From Where I Started, her first new album since 2012’s Dear Creek Canyon, Cahoone traveled south to Portland to work with producer John Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson, Alela Diane). Askew brought together key Portland musicians like Rob Berger (Iron and Wine, Lucinda Williams), Dave Depper (Death Cab For Cutie) and Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) with Cahoone’s Seattle bandmates – Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray) and Jason Kardong (Son Volt, Jay Farrar). The band lays a deep bedrock beneath Cahoone’s songs, supporting her arcing vocals and innovative guitar and banjo playing. The album is driven by a strong rhythmic sensibility, owed to Cahoone’s background as a drummer for indie rock bands. “A lot of my songs start as a beat, I add guitar, then lyrics at the end,” she says. “When I write songs I usually sit at my drum kit playing both drums and guitar at the same time.”
From Where I Started plays on the rougher, darker edges of the traditional love song. Like any good country album, the songs here deal with love and loss, but Cahoone also knows how to surround loss with hope, to temper a sad song with a turn in the major key. The optimism of the love song “Up To Me,” buoyed by fingerpicked guitar and banjo, gives way to the weary resignation of “Taken Its Toll,” with its plaintive pedal steel and echoing vocal harmonies. “Ladybug,” is a poignant song that followed the tragic death of Cahoone’s cousin Tawnee.
From Where I Startedrepresents a refocusing for Sera Cahoone. It positions her as a songwriter beholden to the old country sounds she grew up with, a songwriter who’s always been able to deftly translate a personal perspective into a universal view. It’s an album about falling in and out of love, finding new hope, and learning that the best way to move forward is to remember whereyou began.
PHOEBE LEGERE fronts a family-friendly ensemble that blends elements of Americana, Cajun, New Orleans jazz, country, folk and blues into a spicy gumbo. A standard bearer of the Acadian-Cajun renaissance, Legere is descended from one of the original Acadian families in North America. Phoebe Legere plays seven instruments. She is an award-winning accordion player, virtuoso piano player, a rural folk blues guitar stylist, and an award-winning songwriter.
Phoebe Legere has released fifteen CDs of original and traditional music. Legere’s 2015 ACADIAN MOON was added to over forty radio stations in Canada. Her new full length album is called Heart of Love. It ships to college radio this week.Legere blurs the lines between music composition, visual art, performance, community organizing and political activism. Legere has appeared on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC, NBC, PBS and Charlie Rose.She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and at the Congrés Mondial Acadien. In 2014 Phoebe, received the prestigious Acker Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2015 Legere appeared on HBO’s documentary IT’S ME HILARY which was produced by Lena (Girls) Dunham. Her original song Hip Hop Frog, a humorous but deeply serious environmental song,was licensed by HBO and will be on her new album.
As a teenager Legere was signed Epic Records as a songwriter. She opened for David Bowie on his National Tour in 1991. She led highly influential downtown bands, from Monad to 4 Nurses of the Apocalypse to her nine piece swing-punk outfit Swingalicious. After the spectacular college radio success of “Marilyn Monroe” (Island Records), and her appearance in numerous underground films Legere turned her attention to avant-garde classical music. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her work with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Legere has had six of her original plays with music produced in New York City. She has two upcoming commissions: Theater for the New City (2017) and Dixon Place (2018)
Ms. Legere studied jazz with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Phoebe graduated from Vassar College, studied composition at the Juilliard School, studied piano at the New England Conservatory, and film scoring, orchestration and jazz arranging at the NYU Graduate School of Music Composition. She studied composition with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Morton Subotnick, Wayne Oquin and Dinu Gezzo. She also studied jazz arranging with Ira Newborn and Rick Shemaria.
This highly regarded “musicians musician” has said that the death of the record business is a much needed correction. “Right now musicians have a golden opportunity. For the first time we can shape our own careers. Musicians are no longer the slaves of music corporations. We are free to invent the music we hear in our hearts today, and invent new ways to deliver it to the listeners of tomorrow.”
The New York Times raved: “Legere plays the piano with enormous authority in a style that encompasses Chopin, blues, ragtime, bebop and beyond, and she brings to her vocal delivery a four octave range, and an extraordinary palette of tonal color and meticulous phrasing.”
This “multi-keyboard, vocal wizard” (CBS) has been compared to “Beethoven” (Paper Magazine) “Edith Piaf” (Stephen Holden, NY Times), “Frank Zappa” (Billboard) “Dorothy Donegan” (John Wilson,NY Times) “Dorothy Parker” (Ruddy Cheeks, The Phoenix) “Jerry Lee Lewis” (Proctor.Lippincott, NY Times) and “Bobby Short” (LIz Smith, NY Daily News). Washington Post called Phoebe Legere “Mick Jagger with an accordion.” and Timeout called her “the Sexiest Accordionist on the Planet.”
Torgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, longhaired and bearded man would deliver an album that captivated and moved us as much as it did. An acoustic masterpiece that sounded like it came straight from the rehearsal room of a young troubadour from Laurel Canyon in the seventies.
While his previous album cultivated a pure, acoustic sound, we get more rock music this time, and for Torgeir Waldemar nothing is more natural. With his background as a guitar hero in various rock bands, it was only a question of time before distorted tones would assert themselves in his solo career. «No Offending Borders» is a gloriously composite work with both dead honest acoustic laments and grandiose rock songs.
But the record is so much more than that, and for Torgeir this is a document that shows the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives. Both on the personal level, with relationships that falls apart and the loss of loved ones, but also on a national and global level, with refugee crises, suicide statistics and the weakest members of our society. You may have guessed it already, but this is a solemn record.
If you’re afraid that Torgeir Waldemar has turned away from what he presented on his debut album, you can relax. Here we get acoustic folk songs like «Falling Rain (Link Wray)», «Island Bliss» and «Souls on a String», but the album also contains more intense rock songs like «Summer In Toulouse», «Sylvia (Southern People)» and «Among the Low». A complete album, you might say … and we’re saying it.
Aesthetically, it’s also consistent from beginning to end – nothing at all is done by chance here. The historical lines that are drawn in the cover design, are also meant to point back to ourselves and to make us conscious of our past, so that we won’t make the same mistakes again. The cover of the single «Souls on a String» featured a photo of the decorated carrier pigeon from World War I, Cher Ami. It saved a whole British company during the war, when the British were caught in a battle, without any food or ammunition. Cher Ami was sent away, and taken under fire by the enemy, but finally delivered the message that saved the British troops.
The chair on the cover of «No Offending Borders» is from Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. This is the chair that Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, was sitting in when he was told that World War I had started. Wilhelm II was a friend of Norway and spent much time on the west coast in the early 1900s. What would you have done if you were sitting in that chair and received that message? Sit down, think thoroughly about it, while you’re listening to «No Offending Borders».
It’s hard not to love an album that blows away your expectations, and the latest release from this award winning Norwegian singer/songwriter does just that. His acclaimed eponymous debut was an introspective and wistful acoustic affair, whereas No Offending Borders sees him treading new ground. Often the changes are subtle; the dark lament of ‘The Bottom Of The Well’ wouldn’t sound amiss in a classic western movie and the gorgeous gentle melody of ‘Island Bliss’ really lives up to its name. ‘Among The Low’, the album’s most experimental offering, mixes celtic folk with subtle eastern tinges, interspersed with feedback fuelled southern rock riffs. With these tracks we find a diverse and interesting folk record, and a worthy successor to his debut.
The big talking point of this album however is not in those subtle changes, but in the two big powerhouse tracks. ‘Summer in Toulouse’ and ‘Sylvia (Southern People)’ are both sprawling Americana epics that could have come straight from the golden age of Neil Young. They just don’t make them like this anymore! Both tracks are the perfect template of how it should be done and I’m sure at least one of them will find its way into my list of top ten songs at the end of the year. These hulking behemoths of southern rock splendour would be enough to make this an excellent album just from their own merit. When I factor in the fantastic folk alongside them it seems clear that this is the first truly great album I have heard in 2017.