Album Review: Sera Cahoone – From Where I Started

On her upcoming album, From Where I Started, Seattle singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone shares a revealing emotional journey of love and loss. While many will recognize Cahoone from her influential work in the indie rock scene as the former drummer for Band of Horses, listeners wi instantly feel the indelible link she has to her childhood Americana musical influences. The folk and country twang on her new album hearken back to family trips with her father and her first musical performances as a 12-year old providing backing on drums for blues musicians at dive bars. Cahoone’s comfort in the genre is virtually transmitted through the speakers upon even a cursory listen—the music and the artist united like  childhood friends.

Cahoone reminds us that love and loss are not isolated concepts. While recalling her sorrow of the passing of her cousin Tawney on “Ladybug,” Cahoone eschews the depressive and opts for bright keys and up-tempo drums which turn the song into a reflective homage to the one she lost. Though she professes love and devotion alongside carefree guitar and banjo in the tender “Up To Me,” there is an accompanying aura of apprehension in knowing that a profession of love may be thwarted by rejection or fate. Album standout “Taken Its Toll” is a piano-led bittersweet testament to the realization that a relationship needs to end, the melancholy yet contemplative lyrics accented by mournful touches of pedal steel.

Her history as a drummer pays off in the timing, rhythm, and structure of her work. Every note or pause has a purpose, yet the album has a free-spirited flow that gives each song a spontaneous feel. The album features a who’s who of Portland and Seattle-based musicians including Rob Berger (Iron and Wine, Lucinda Williams), Dave Depper (Death Cab For Cutie), Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie), Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray), and Jason Kardong (Son Volt, Jay Farrar), all under the skilled ear and instinct of veteran producer John Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson, Alela Diane.) Cahoone deserves credit for striking a brilliant balance between lyric-focused minimalism and musical flourishes that complete the picture.

By baring deeply personal experiences, Sera Cahoone exudes an authenticity that alludes most artists–but it’s not just the experiences themselves, it’s her perspective that draws you in and reveals the beauty of where she started.

Purchase From Where I Started, out March 24th:

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