Sera Cahoone: From Where I Started

Photo: Kyle Johnson

Sera Cahoone channels home and self on her personal and emotional fourth solo album.

Sera Cahoone

From Where I Started

Label: Muleskinner
US Release Date: 2017-03-24
UK Release Date: 2017-03-24

From the somber guitar playing to her reflective lyrics about the comfort of finding home (which is the main theme at hand), there is a lot to like in Sera Cahoone’s new collection, From Where I Started. It remains consistent with her previous three records, and she excels at inviting her listeners into her world and the places she identifies as safe and welcoming. Her passionate, soft, and evocative voice and slowly measured acoustic guitar pace the brisk 36-minute album nicely.

Each song builds complexity to the layers of solace and strength in the familiar. Opening track “Always Turn Around” remains largely acoustic, with soft and comforting singing, while “Better Woman” adds a yearning for self-improvement through Cahoone’s increasing intensity. “Ladybug” compliments the growing tone and quickening speed of the LP through three tracks with arrangements and distinctive percussion behind a louder guitar performance. On this third track, the intensity reveals how home can be transformed (in this case, she tells of a cousin murder by their partner).

With instrumentation and vocals that ease you into her life and reveal the complexity of what familiar places can become, Cahoone explores unknown and unpredictability in residence, such as the feelings carried through “Up to Me”, “Time to Give”, and “Taken Its Toll”. Linked in the middle of the sequence, these songs highlight uncertainty in love and the demands pressed upon oneself in a relationship, but they ultimately circle around to rewards earned by expanding what is defined as "home" from those pressures. “Only One” completes that realization despite worries, fears, and any changes that occur in various aspects of life.

The final third of the set, starting with “Not Like I”, creates a dramatic mood shift through louder instrumentation, as well as quickened and more striking vocal performances. These songs fit the increasing tenor of the work: Cahoone relays a comfort attained through the explorations of home through first seven tracks on From Where I Started. On “Dusty Lungs”, she and the band add a fast-paced bluesy backing, a striking change from the folksy acoustic guitar and banjo lightly affected by them throughout the remainder of the album. It’s confrontational and completes the generosity of Cahoone’s invitation to listeners. Completing the record, “Tables Turned” seems apologetic about the change, and Cahoone seeks forgiveness from someone wronged. A steel guitar pushes through the track, enhancing an embrace of what home means to Cahoone and how she conveys a message of peace and acceptance (it's not where you were or where you will be, but where you are). The closing track, “House Our Own”, confirms this realization, and Cahoone’s singing looks for the opportunities discovered throughout the album and the possibilities of how you define it.

Repeat listens of From Where I Started enhance the theme presented and the folksy mood created by lightly intensified country elements. Sera Cahoone makes it a welcoming and easy album to live and listen; it’s comforting to return to immediately and makes a solid addition to a steady catalog based on an extensive career finding “home”.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.