Sean McConnell took the name for his latest project, Cold Country, after a term his Minnesota-born father used to refer to the American Midwest, but during the creating of the band’s upcoming release, that title took on more of a symbolic significance. Cold Country’s second LP, Willow, will come out November 18th, but McConnell began working on the album in the winter of 2012, when he found himself homeless. His songwriting continued through the summer of 2013, when he was offered an artist residency in northern Michigan, where he spent a month alone in a cabin in the woods. But through those challenging periods and immense stretches of isolation, he channeled his emotions into creating the truest work he could, and when he returned to Chicago and once more reached out to friends and fellow musicians to record, he had fully realized his album.
Today, Elmore is premiering “Valerie,” a track from Willow. McConnell shares, “It’s a plea for strength. The chorus is less about a specific person and more of a mantra for bravery in the face of change, whether that change be the end of a relationship or the end of everything around us, or simply the passing of things in general… The organ plays a big part in the song. I wanted it to sound like a funeral procession that eventually opens up with “cosmic” vibes.” The track is expansive in its melancholy, the organ, as McConnell notes, doing double duty as both a harbinger of solemnity and grief and also a possible channel into hope for the future. Spaced out sonics come into play towards the latter half of the track, but the song is ultimately rooted in McConnell’s sweet, sad croon. “Hold my heart while you can right now,” he echoes, quietly, against the gentle guitar strum of guitar, in a manner reminiscent of Wilco, “you know that it’s true, beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
For More Information on Cold Country, connect on Facebook and Soundcloud. Catch the band at the Lamplight Festival in Grand Rapids, MI on Saturday, November 5th at 6PM and at their release show on November 22nd at The Empty Bottle in Chicago, IL.