New Music: Sonya Cotton – It Is So

Sonya Cotton’s new album – It is so – (released this week via bandcamp and her personal website) is a beautiful, touching collection of songs dedicated, as Sonya writes, “…to the life and spirit of my mother, Karen Imparato Cotton.”  The album also contains the track “Song For Eric,” a tribute to Sonya’s friend Eric Bayer who died of cancer shortly after her own mother succumbed to the same disease.  Given these moments of great loss, it might be expected that an album like It is so would be somber and funereal.

And yes, there is sadness and loss in It is so. And yet, the album is also a wonderful celebration of life in all its forms.  As Sonya writes: “The album is a tribute to my mother who passed away two years ago; she had cancer.  In addition to exploring loss of many kinds (loss of life, of safe space, of hope,) the songs are also, as I see them, prayers, and celebrations of love.”

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Mailbag: Chris Kiehne – Pray for Daylight

Chris Kiehne’s Pray For Daylight is a mesmerizing, almost-lost album full of exquisite harmonies (provided by the excellent Sonya Cotton) and wispy threads of literate, Americana-tinged folk.  It’s an album that – despite its hard-luck history – has a freshness that speaks volumes about its talented creators and their passion for this project.  At least, that’s my take.  Here’s what Chris has to say: “It’s about zombies and love and other gross stuff, and Sonya sings harmony through its entirety.”  Of course, there’s more to that story…but how can you pass up zombies?

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Happy New Year! — A 2010 “Retropackle.”

Hey, everyone!  Happy New Year!  I hope that you have a good one, and that you’re surrounded by good food, friends, and music.  It’s been a long year over here (the epic dissertation struggle continues), and I haven’t always been the most attentive (you’re top of the list of New Year’s Resolutions!)… but I wanted to thank everyone for all their love and support.  I’ve been positively blown away by the amount of excellent music that has been sent my way, and the… well, legitimacy, I seem to have stumbled into.

So, in 2011, I’ll be stepping up to keep things rolling around here.  And I hope that you’ll be there, too!  And since it’s customary, follow me for some things I’ve loved this year, as well as some things I’m looking forward to in the New Year!

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Sonya Cotton: Red River

Sonya Cotton is a San-Francisco based singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice, and a singular vision, who describes her work in this way:

Sonya’s compositions are deeply personal, drawing upon her dreams, family, and love; they often come from a place of profound reverence for the natural world and the creatures of the earth.  In singing about wild spaces (rivers, woods, mountains,) and the animals that inhabit them, she hopes to bring herself and others in touch with the sacredness of these spaces, and to contemplate and critique our culture’s compulsion to exploit and destroy these creatures and spaces.

The music is right in my comfort zone – eliciting memories of Joanna Newsom, Laura Gibson, Fleet Foxes, and even Joan Baez.  On Red River, a showcase of San Franciscan talents – “…including Ezra Lipp (drums; Sean Hayes, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Stitchcraft) Joey Chang (cello, Cello Joe) and Wayne Van Lieu (french horn, Monterey, Marin, and Napa Valley Symphonies)” – produces deep, languid arrangements of folk and Americana.  Sonya’s tenderness and reverence for the world around her really shine on “Red River,” which has a gentleness that I find mesmerizing.  But perhaps most intriguing of all is the way in which this music feels old.  Old in a sense that it plumbs the deeper corners of the soul, and finds sparkling gems of natural beauty and humanity amidst the dark.

So, if you’re in the mood for a little reflection, or if you need a bit of quiet, go ahead and follow me:

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