RIYL Michael Chapman, Mike Cooper, Steve Gunn, Ryley Walker, Aldous Harding, Sibylle Baier, Bert Jansch, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris.
“Simultaneously spare and complex, observational folk ballads turned psychic and strange by metal- stringed dissonance and troubling Symbolist metaphor.” MOJO
Featuring contributions from Chris Cohen, Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas), James Elkington, and members of Gun Outfit & Sun Araw.
In the fall of 2017, a year after the release of her acclaimed 2016 album Open to Chance, Kayla Cohen, the songwriter and guitarist who records and performs as Itasca, left her home in LA to live and write for 2 seasons in a century-old adobe house in rural New Mexico (pictured on the album cover). More urgent escape than fanciful escapade, the move from one Southwestern desert to another resulted from a set of dire circumstances, both personal and societal, not least of which was the sense, shared by many, that a sinister cabal of impaired lunatics had irredeemably poisoned the already sour well of our American discourse. She decided to drop out and dive deeper hiking into the mountains, through fragrant juniper and piñon forests, past groves of golden cottonwoods, to the source of what she calls in the song “Cornsilk” with a nod to poet Clayton Eshleman “the canyoned river.” Inspired by the landscape and history of the Four Corners region, the resulting album, the sublime Spring its title summoning both season and scarce local water sources dowses a devotional path to high desert headwaters. Cohen sought something different, more ancient a hearth, a retreat from the noisy and noisome city, yes, but also a deeper historical understanding of urbanity and community, landscape and loss. Spring, suffused with mystery and a keenly evoked sense of place, contains Cohen’s most quietly dazzling, coherent, and self-assured set of songs to date. Having withdrawn from and returned to the city, she sounds more like herself than ever before.
In the context of the album’s bolder arrangements, her gorgeous, lambent voice and helical fingerstyle guitar plumb new depths of expressivity, confidence, and wonder. Inflected with flourishes recalling the ’70s orchestrated concept albums from which it draws influence. Daniel Swire (drums), Kayla’s bandmate in Gun Outfit, and Marc Riordan (piano) of Sun Araw provided the exquisitely delicate rhythm section; Dave McPeters once again contributed lightning-field flashes of pedal steel; and James Elkington arranged the subtly cinematic strings (played by Jean Cook.) Chris Cohen mixed, imparting some of his signature classic pop dynamics, which press beyond the sonic realm of the solitary singer-songwriter. If Open to Chance felt moonlit, spectral and spooky, Spring sounds positively auroral, luminous, a brisk early morning walk through lucid daylit dreams, a series of vivid visions in thrall to the dusty New Mexican terrain. By opening themselves to multivalent interpretations, these generous, sun-dappled songs hide nothing. An intentional narrative of discovery connects the sequence, from the beckoning highway apparition in “Lily,” through the immersion in the “Blue Spring” dug deep into the recesses of a cliffside cave, to the resigned farewell of “A’s Lament” (which ends, poignantly, with a blessing to a departed friend: “I just want you to be free”). Elsewhere the links to Cohen’s research are oblique, more atmospheric and impressionistic than explicit. Lead single “Bess’s Dance” provides a metaphorical key to the record’s concept, with a glimpse of the Basketmaker culture’s woven artifacts, functional art objects that so fascinated Cohen that she found herself dreaming their patterns.
FORMAT: 140g vinyl; heavy-duty sleeve, insert with lyrics & download.
A2. Only a Traveler
A3. Bess’s Dance
A4. Comfort’s Faces
A5. Voice of the Beloved
B1. Blue Spring
B4. Golden Fields
B5. A’s Lament
Paradise Of Bachelors POB047LP