Sera Cahoone

Deer Creek Canyon

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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.

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