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”.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

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.