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