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With plenty of flannels and full beards, it was not hard to tell that Sera Cahoone and her band are from Seattle after immediately looking at them. With her, she brought not only her Seattle sensibilities, but also her unique and captivating music. Cahoone has played drums for a number of years in bands such as Carissa’s Wierd and Band of Horses, but has since swapped sticks for guitar picks and writes and performs her own tunes. “I kind of wanted to do my own things,” she explained about going solo “I always wanted to play guitar and sing, and just sort of went for it.” Her band consisted of her on guitar and vocals, accompanied by an additional guitar or banjo, as well as the criminally underused lap steel.
From the first notes of her opening song, “Worry All Your Life” from her latest LP Deer Creek Canyon, it was clear that the rain had followed her into Boston. The somber and mournful introduction felt appropriate under the grey wet skies, and the lap steel escalated this mood intensely. The acoustic instrumentation was constantly responding to the dreary vocal melody and harmonies, all with the lap steel sliding and weeping on top if it all with an eerily human voice like timbre. The song was a relatively standard folk rock piece, but was notable for its intense and potent emotional atmosphere.
The next song that Cahoone played was the title track from her last LP, an ode to her home land of Colorado. The entire album explores this theme of longing for an idea of home and, more specifically, of that specific geographic area. Although touring with these songs in different places can be strange, she says “these songs are from Colorado, playing them reminds me of Colorado and puts me in a good head space.” Her approach of “going back to the simple things” for her latest release was apparent in more ways than one. The lyrics were filled with vivid imagery of mountains and nature, which lent to the organic and earth feel of the instrumentation. The technicality and intricacy of the playing and the arrangements was extremely impressive. With one guitar quickly finger picking a myriad of notes, while the other strummed away at chords, it was hard to tell which sound was coming from which guitar. This dynamic made for dense layers of sound and a musical landscape as lush and lively as the ones described in the lyrics.
Cahoone closed the set with “Naked” another song from her latest album. This time the second guitarist swapped his instrument out and picked up a banjo, giving the song a distinctly American twang. Cahoone is not the most powerful or assertive of singers, but instead sings in an unassuming, infectious manner that allows itself to be enveloped in the music. It created a sound that put the music and the vocals on an equal level of importance, equal parts human and nature. This theme was prevalent in all the songs she played both lyrically and musically with her exploration of details of humanity in the terms of nature and vice-versa.