Album Review: Sub Pop darling’s sophomore effort full of grassroots swagger
If Seattle’s Next Big Thing is country-folk, Sera Cahoone may have sealed its fate.
The crooning Colorado-native and daughter of a Rocky Mountain dynamite salesman could’ve sat behind a drum kit, out of the spotlight, for as long as she felt comfortable. Lucky for us, she decided to share all the songs that have been building up inside her for more than 15 years instead.
A long line of playing music, beginning with a short stint at sax in elementary school before moving on to drums and guitar at 12, has led up to the release of her sophomore and Sub Pop debut album, Only the Day is Long, one that proves subtlety can often be the key to greatness.
"It was the hardest thing ever," she told Seattle Sound Magazine, the first time she got up the nerve to sing a song she wrote when she was 16, at a high school party, having had a few drinks. "I couldn’t even look up. I was just tense and sweating."
With unobtrusively soft yet matter-of-fact vocals a la Sheryl Crow’s storytelling days; along with the wisdom and anguish of Sarah McLachlan; the realism of Suzanne Vega; the sometimes haunting nature of Hope Sandoval; and the tender twang that holds its own on the pendulum against Jesse Sykes and Patsy Cline, it takes a careful listen to appreciate the effort for the album’s sincere modesty that ultimately packs a punch so hard you can’t help become addicted.
This new release has no doubt been eagerly anticipated since the drummer-turned songstress’s 2006 self-titled debut attracted local and national attention; KEXP, Seattle’s public radio station, even named it one of the "Top 10 (well, 11) Debut CDs of 2006."
Staying true to the genre, it’s loaded with lots of banjo, pedal steel, tambourine and harmonica, all evenly distributed to colorfully complement Cahoone’s palette of guitar, drums and self-harmonization.
No stranger to the Seattle music scene, Cahoone relocated there at 21 in 1998, and soon after began drumming in now defunct, but fondly remembered indie lo-fi act Carissa’s Weird, known for its poignantly sad, dreamy tunes.
Though far from the beginning of her music career, perhaps this is where she learned the idiosyncrasy of ultimately refined songwriting. "Sitting at the back of the band is an asset," she confided to No Depression Magazine. "Being a drummer, you listen to how everything comes together."
Since the band’s breakup in 2003, all is well for its former members, who are each following their own paths in music. Cahoone has toured and played drums with ex-bandmates in a number of successive acts, including Band of Horses, and is most likely best known for bringing the rhythm as drummer for the band’s famed 2006 release Everything All the Time.
For more on Sera Cahoone, including songs and tour dates, visit www.myspace.com/seracahoone.