Photo by Hillary Harris
Everyone is just looking for a place to feel at home. Singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone left her native Colorado at 21, and headed to Seattle where she played in bands and began her solo career. But on her latest record, she reflected upon her childhood in the Centennial State, and found a home that we can all recognize.
Cahoone started playing music at age 11, but it wasn’t singing or playing guitar that first got her going. It was the drums. In 1998 she made her way to Seattle, and began drumming with the band Carissa’s Wierd. The band featured singer Jenn Ghetto and future Band of Horses members Mat Brooke and Ben Bridwell. Cahoone would go on to drum on Band of Horse’s 2006 debut Everything All the Time. She also hit the skins for Seattle blues artist Betsy Olson and singer-songwriter Patrick Park. In 2006, Cahoone stepped from behind the drums, and out onto center-stage when she released her debut, self-titled solo LP. After a warm receptions from fans and critics, Seattle label Sub Pop signed Cahoone to their roster, and released her sophomore record Only As The Day Is Long in 2008.
Cahoone looked to her Colorado childhood when she sat down to write her third solo record, 2012’s Deer Creek Canyon. The titular canyon, according to Cahoone, was a place of refuge and reflection near Littleton, Colorado, where she grew up. “Deer Creek Canyon has always been a very special place to me,” Cahoone told No Depression in a Sept. 2012 interview. “The minute I drive up Deer Creek Canyon everything clears away. I can think again. Whenever I was having those high school blues I would just drive all around.” One of the album’s standout tracks, “Nervous Wreck,” finds Cahoone in a similar state of mind, driving and figuring things out. Over a bounding, americana melody, Cahoone seems to be at the end of her rope, but she’s trying to hold it together. “So please understand this wasn’t what I planned. You know I only want what’s right, and I know just what you say. But I just have to drive you home. I’ll be alright, but I’m a nervous wreck,” she sings in the chorus. You can almost imagine her winding around mountain roads, just trying to clear her head. The juxtaposition between the bouncy, kinetic music and the story she tells is striking. We all do it. We say, “I’m alright,” even when things aren’t exactly going swimmingly. Hiding pain behind a smile is a common tale, and whether the “wreck” of the title is literal or not, Cahoone imbues the song, and the story, with beauty and pathos.
Sera Cahoone plays at The Parish Saturday, Nov. 23 with Joe Pug.