Given the label, you’re probably expecting a blues album. There are traces of that here, but Long Tall Deb and Colin John move in several directions, sometimes blending genres within the song. But even when it is not clear what kind of music you re listening to, it’s a compelling even intoxicating mix. This is not entirely new for this pair as it follows their 2015 EP Streets of Mumbai, which similarly used a bedrock of blues and soul accented by rock n roll, surf, spaghetti western, noir jazz, pop, Americana, and world. The couple seems intent on musically reflecting their travels throughout America, Europe, India, and Nepal.
These are all original songs save the cover of Townes Van Zandt’s Lungs. The wide range of instrumentation primarily come from Colin John, with Deb singing. John (who also sings) is credited with all acoustic guitars, baritone guitar, baby sitar, lap steel and occasional bass and piano. Numerous guests add vocals and instruments throughout with Michael Landolt (Coldplay, O.A. R.) producing. The title is symbolic of change and transformation. You ll hear the familiar strains of a lap steel to kick off the album, a crunchy blues shuffle in On the Way Down, pop in the radio-friendly title track and resounding electric guitars in the quietly rendered Lungs.
According to Deb and John, they re mostly creating a series of sounds you might associate with a car radio. In other words, songs full of choruses that you want to sing along with. This is especially the case in I ll Be the One and Trouble. Remember Why (It s Good He s Gone) is rife with spaghetti western motifs. Pull the Pin begins quietly with spooky chords before Deb becomes balladeer, perhaps the album s best example of her pure, soulful vocals. Horizontal Lightning is surf music in slow motion. Lights That Shine is a slow-building tune, with another of their patented sing-along choruses.
Credit Long Tall Deb and Colin John for forging their own unique sound. It s refreshing and captivating.
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.
“Stories are all around us, and I’m listening to people even when they think I’m not,” states Sammy Brue. “If I get to the emotion of it, I can find the words.”
Realism and storytelling are qualities that are prominent on I Am Nice, the 15-year-old Utah singer-songwriter’s New West debut. The 12-song album—produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of the Civil Wars—shows the young troubadour to be a timeless talent whose catchy compositions embody the sort of wisdom, empathy and insight that’s usually associated with more experienced songwriters.
Sammy Brue likes to think of himself as a normal fifteen year old kid – he plays video games, hangs out with his friends and eats cereal in the afternoon. On “I Know,” the first single from his upcoming debut LP on New West, the John Paul White and Ben Tanner-produced I Am Nice, Brue balances a mature, brooding sense of folk with wistful, youthful lyricism: on one hand, he’s an artist gifted way beyond his years. On the other, he’s a teenager who misses the girl he left behind.
“I wrote that song in my underwear at three in the morning,” Brue tells Rolling Stone Country. “It was about someone chasing after their dreams and leaving a person they loved behind to do it. Only to find out that the person they left was more important than the dream. It’s probably the most personal song I’ve written for this album.”
The Ogden, Utah-based Brue started writing music at ten years old, and was snatched by Justin Townes Earle for the cover of his 2014 album, Single Mothers, for his uncanny resemblance to the singer songwriter. His similarities to Earle weren’t just in the physical – he, too, plays his guitar with a heavy thumb that tends to conjure up a bygone era, with lyrics firmly footed in the present. By fourteen, Brue had already released two EPs under the tutelage of musicians like Earle, Joe Fletcher and Joshua Black Wilkins, who saw more than just the novelty of a young kid at the mic: they saw an artist. Young or not, Brue’s songs were emotionally stirring and stark, garnering him spots opening for Hayes Carll, Lydia Loveless, John Moreland, Lukas Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Asleep at the Wheel and Earle, and a deal with New West records.
“Sam is not only a friend, but a peer,” says Wilkins, also a photographer who shot Brue for the cover of Single Mothers. “I started playing music at fifteen, so to witness someone so focused and inspired, and talented, is a constant reminder that I can always improve my craft. Sammy Brue gets better every day, and does it with a focus and drive that almost no one can match.” “Watching Sammy grow as a writer and performer over the past few years has been the most inspiring thing I’ve seen happen during my music career,” echoes Fletcher. “He is so hungry for new influences and seeing him devour them and process them and make them his own is a constant reminder to me of what drew me to this life in the first place.”
For I Am Nice, Brue headed to Florence, Alabama to make the album with Tanner and White – he’s finishing high school online these days – and he embraced the opportunity to add a fuller band to his spare acoustic sound. At first, he was a little intimidated by White’s austere persona, but soon found the man behind the press to be much different than he imagined. “I was kind of nervous at first because when you see pictures on the Internet [of White] he looks super serious,” Brue says. “But then he was a really big goofball.” I Am Nice infuses a new complexity into Brue’s style: a little doo-wop on “Was I The Only One,” some Nirvana-inspired scruff on “Control Freak,” the echoing introspection of “Salty Times.”
“I don’t have a lot of experience playing with a band so I didn’t know what to expect other than I wanted the Muscle Shoals vibe,” says Brue. “Just hearing the recordings after each take was cool. When Ben Tanner put keys on it I kind of didn’t ever want to play solo again. I actually have a band back in Ogden now, too, because I really love playing with other musicians. I didn’t have a sound in my head before because I didn’t want to ruin what John and Ben were going to come up with. After hearing the final mastered versions I really loved it. I think people will know where it was recorded when they listen to it.”
Though Brue is clearly influenced by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan – his first EP was titled The Ghost of Woody Guthrie and evokes a young Dylan heading to New York and ambushing his idol at the hospital – his tastes range far beyond just folk.
alt-country and folk duo The Weeping Willows recorded this, their
second album, in Los Angeles and though that city isn’t renowned for its
roots scene as much as say, Nashville, they’ve captured an impressive,
lived-in, warm and lush sound.
Their authenticity and craft as singers, as songwriters and in Andrew
Wrigglesworth’s sublime guitar playing makes this a hypnotic and
alluring album. They’ve taken a detour down some darker and moodier
paths this time and it works exceedingly well. Dark folk, blues and
country musings on nature, death and doomed romance suit them well and
puts Wrigglesworth and Laura Coates right up there with the finest
Americana music you’ll hear this year.
Adam Young celebrates the release of his debut solo record, Elementary Carnival Blues
– an album that has seen the musician dive into some stellar
alternative country sounds and work with some incredibly talented types
along the way. While his work with seminal bands in Daisygrinders and
Big Heavy Stuff perhaps would indicate a a similar rockier sound would
follow on his new album, Young acknowledges his own musical roots on Elementary Carnival Blues and brings to us a record that is gorgeously authentic and rich in promise.