Artist: Sera Cahoone
Album: From Where I Started
Label: Lady Muleskinner Records
Release Date: 03/24/2017
Just over 10 years after her first self-titled solo release, Sera Cahoone creates a catchy, lo-fi folk project that arrives more polished and well-executed than its predecessors. From Where I Started features her usual emotional depth, with even more developed lyrics that are still raw and relatable. Recorded in Portland, this disc featured the musical talents of a variety of notable names, including Iron and Wine’s Rob Burger, Death Cab For Cutie’s Dave Depper, and Black Prairie’s Annalisa Tornfelt.
Sweet layers of well-balanced strings, from steel and acoustic guitar to banjo, pair nicely with Cahoone’s soft yet pleading vocals. Mostly honey, with a splash of whiskey, this disc conveys the notions of falling in and out of love, discovering the importance of transparency, and facing fears among a variety of nuances and underlying themes that we can only assume she drew from… where she started.
“Always Turn Around” kicks the album off with a soothing blend of strings beneath the soundtrack of Cahoone’s own musical journey. “My back was turned toward them and I sang toward the ground. I got so tired of being nervous that I finally turned around,” she recalls how her anxiety was turned into a burgeoning career as a musician.
“Better Woman” has an irresistibly catchy chorus among a rich storytelling backdrop driven by tambourine and soulful keys, among reverb-y steel guitar and tinny drums. “Rest my head on the collar of your favorite shirt, it’s enough to make everything else go away,” she sings from a place of love and nostalgia. There is also a splash of heartache in there—maybe she’s already lost the person she’s singing about, though she’s stretching to keep them. “So I’ll step on up and be a better woman in your eyes. From now on, I’m gonna love everything about you.”
“Ladybug” retells a tragic loss, while “Up to Me” conveys the butterflies of early love as well as the feeling of insecurity in a two-way relationship. “Time to Give” picks up the pace and “One to Love” paints the vivid story of sweet romance. Finally, the “Tables Turned” conveys a bittersweet love song of emptiness, loss, and regret among self-recognition. “You went and found a new place by the lake…While I came home to find no proof of you…I had a lot to give. But I have a lot to learn. How would I feel if the tables turned?”
Last song “House Our Own” ends the album with a lighter love story and hope for a beautiful future. “How ‘bout now we take a little drive, maybe somewhere where the river’s wide? Because there’s just so much that I wanna say, no one’s ever made me feel this way.” The chorus then drives it home by living those future dreams in the moment that we have right now. “Only our world tonight!”