In the vein of such inviting indie folk crooners as Iron & Wine, Laura Veirs, and the seemingly hundreds of folks attempting to be the next Elliott Smith without the unpleasant end, Sera Cahoone's self-described goal in her official press kit is to be seen as "a musical love child of Buck Owens and Cat Power." Raised in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, Cahoone began playing drums at the age of 11 and spent her teenage years in a succession of local bands, often in the company of Roger Green (later of the Czars) and future fellow indie folk singer/songwriter Patrick Park. Landing in the Pacific Northwest upon leaving school, Cahoone joined the artsy indie rock outfit Carissa's Wierd, despite their egregiously misspelled name. The group developed a cult following over the course of several increasingly baroque and accomplished records, but split up in 2003 when leader Jenn Ghetto left to concentrate on her solo project S. While occasionally playing drums with another Carissa's Wierd offshoot, Band of Horses, Cahoone wrote and recorded her self-titled solo debut in 2005. Originally self-released but eventually distributed by Sub Pop Records, Sera Cahoone garnered quite a bit of critical acclaim and paved the way for 2008's follow-up record, Only as the Day Is Long, released on Sub Pop. The album led to positive reviews and her second Sub Pop collection, Deer Creek Canyon. For 2017's From Where I Started, Cahoone moved from Sub Pop to Lady Muleskinner Records. ~ Stewart Mason
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2008 | Sub Pop Records
The last time we heard from Sera Cahoone, she was playing drums with her former Carissa's Wierd bandmates in Band of Horses, adding snare hits and cymbal crashes to songs that were meatier, louder, and altogether rockier than anything Carissa's Wierd ever created. Only as the Day Is Long finds her returning to her solo work, where gently strummed guitars and dark, solemn lyrics take precedence over volume and distortion. Life after Carissa's Weird has been kind to many of the band's former members, and Cahoone follows the path of her Carissa cohort Mat Brooke in creating music that's intimately warm and wistful. But while Brooke evokes the sunny sounds of California with the indie pop band Grand Archives, Cahoone retreats to a more isolated, somber place with her sophomore effort, spinning melancholic narratives with titles like "Shitty Hotel," "Happy When I'm Gone," and "The Colder the Air." Only as the Day Is Long is a straight-up alt-country album, a mix of bare-boned ballads and introspective songs peppered with pedal steel, Dobro, guitar, strings, and harmonies. Cahoone doesn't have a powerful Neko Case-sized voice, but her songs are often just as evocative, particularly when they receive the full atmospheric treatment from her backing band. Penning the songs herself and juggling several different instruments (including guitar, drums, and harmonica), she shows herself to be fully capable of completing an album like this on her own. Still, Cahoone's secret weapon is pedal steel player Jason Kardong, who stretches his aching, mournful riffs over her vocals like rain clouds. Only as the Day Is Long may be a quiet storm, but it's nonetheless a powerful one. ~ Andrew Leahey
Alternative & Indie - Released September 24, 2012 | Sub Pop Records
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. The music on Deer Creek Canyon is powerfully emotional, but Sera Cahoone never seems to be playing for cheap sentimentality or aiming for easy targets; these songs deal with the ache and longing of love and the difficult protocols of the human heart, and Cahoone's sketches speak with an honesty and realism that make them all the more incisive. Deer Creek Canyon is a work of modest genius that, like falling in love, manages to be simple and richly complex at the same time. ~ Mark Deming
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