Essential New Music: Sera Cahoone’s “From Where I Started”

After several successful albums that leaned more toward the rock side of the country-rock equation, Seattle songwriter (and former drummer) Sera Cahoone heads back to her roots. The classic country songs of heartbreak that originally inspired her to play music inform From Where I Started’s tunes, but the tunes here are understated. The atmospheric arrangements give the material a feel that’s more reminiscent of empty bedrooms than smoky barrooms. Cahoone’s acoustic fingerpicking and a soft loping beat drives “Always Turn Around,” a song that equates stage fright with the fear of intimacy. Her whispered vocal is steeped in resignation and regret. “Dusty Lungs” is a lament for a young miner facing a slow death, featuring Cahoone’s haunting multitracked harmonies and Annalisa Tornfelt’s ominous fiddling. The album closes on an upbeat note with “House Our Own,” wherein the singer daydreams about an ideal relationship in a home by the side of a lake, far from the city.

—j. poet