Music

Sera Cahoone: Only as the Day is Long

Cahoone's album is a very good piece of solid country, though it stops short of being uniquely memorable.


Sera Cahoone

Only As the Day Is Long

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2008-03-18
UK Release Date: 2008-03-17
Amazon
iTunes

At the time, Sera Cahoone's decision to leave Band of Horses seemed like a strange one. The band was just getting started, and Everything All the Time was about to blow up big-time. But she was done manning the drum kit, it seemed, after years keeping the beat for Carissa's Weird before Band of Horses.

Turns out, it was a smart call on her part. Only As the Day Is Long is her second solo record, and now that she's on Sub Pop, she's poised to break out all on her own. Her country balladry just might bring enough of the goods to make that happen. Owing much more to the melancholy of Carissa's Weird than the more bittersweet tendencies of Band of Horses, Cahoone's new album is dark and quiet and brooding. Her voice, infused with a crooning smoke, delivers down-and-out stories of woe with a genuine feeling behind them. The sad sway of "Baker Lake", the country-western pluck of "You Might as Well", and the sneaky drive of percussion behind the title track each establish their own brand of sad quiet, while also coming together to build the album.

Musically, it is an accomplishment. The compositions may be simple, and stripped down, but the execution is spot-on. These songs aren't influenced by country, they are country. And it takes a great musician to make that difference. Cahoone shows herself to be surprisingly adroit as a guitarist and as a songwriter, leaving most of the drums to others in favor of being a full-on frontwoman.

Of course, the fact that "Baker Lake", the only song she drums on, is consequently the best song on the album might be an argument for her picking up more percussive slack on her next record. In comparison to her careful brushes and subtly complicated beat, some of the other drumming here sounds thin. These are not, of course, songs served by beefed-up drums, but they could use a little flair from time to time.

Similarly, while these songs are well composed and surely pleasant, even affecting, from beginning to end, they stop just short of being distinct. Only As the Day Is Long isn't quite a Sera Cahoone record yet. Her songs don't come off as recognizably hers. Someone coming upon these songs without knowing who they are by could run through a slew of female singer names before landing on Cahoone. The country sound of these songs, one we've surely heard before, is not what holds her back, though. In the end, it is how these songs tell stories.

This record is a big improvement from the first record in that regard, and Cahoone is solid when it comes to setting a mood, and earnestly conveying sadness. She can also pick up a detail when she needs to -- the minutia of a hotel room, the choice of a specific word, a subtle change in inflection. But these strengths go underused on Only As the Day Is Long. The weight of the album rests on the instrumentation and latent, undefined emotion. That combination hardly disappoints, but those alone keep this good album from being a great one.

Cahoone is making strides on Only As the Day Is Long, without question. And with the improvements we've seen from album one to album two, it is clear she is taking the long view, trying to improve some with each step. In that regard, her new album is a total success. As a stand-alone piece of great music, though, it falls just short. It's an album in a decent limbo, stuck where it is too good to be disappointing, but not good enough to be more memorable than it is.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

9
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane
Music

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".

Music

Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.

Music

Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.

Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Music

Alt-pop's merci, mercy Warns We May "Fall Apart"

Australian alt-pop singer-songwriter, merci, mercy shares a video for her catchy, sophisticated anthem, "Fall Apart".

Film

Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?

Music

London Indie-Poppers the Motive Impress on "You" (premiere)

Southwest London's the Motive concoct catchy, indie-pop earworms with breezy melodies, jangly guitars, and hooky riffs, as on their latest single "You".

Books

Vigdis Hjorth's 'Long Live the Post Horn!' Breathes Life into Bureaucratic Anxiety

Vigdis Hjorth's Long Live the Post Horn! is a study in existential torpor that, happily, does not induce the same condition in the reader.

Music

Konqistador and HanHan Team for Darkwave Hip-Hop on "Visaya"

Detroit-based electronic/industrial outfit, Konqistador team with Toronto hip-hopper HanHan for "Visaya", a song that blends darkwave and rap into an incendiary combination.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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