The L.A.-based singer’s third solo album softly grasps the art of holding back.
If there has been a subtextual thread through singer and songwriter Kacey Johansing’s three solo albums, it has been an emphasis on, and control of, quiet space. In even its fuller swells, like the chorus in the elevating tone-setter “Bow and Arrow”, attention is still drawn to what has been held back. The room given to each instrument affords a hint of unpredictability in the moment, even if every note meets its mark. Only the closing “Evergreen”, a subtle game-changer for Johansing that builds a marimba-led bliss faintly reminiscent of the Mercury Program, ever fills up to the line.
Throughout The Hiding, the electric guitars, wrapped in soft reverb and gently strummed or plucked, bear a personality at ease. The way the muted beat drops in and out as stereo-panning notes glide around “Hold Steady” retains the song’s sense of anticipation even after it has become familiar. Much the same can be said in regards to the album as a whole, which sways and spins like a half-remembered cool night in a warm place spent listening to Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen and Feist’s The Reminder. These songs have traveled and grown through a turbulent time with Johansing, but The Hiding is surely more assured for it.