Sam Cohen draws a lot of influence from orchestras, often decorating the songs he records under the Yellowbirds moniker with all manner of stringed instruments. He often records alone in his bedroom, spending weeks on end trying to translate the perfect sound he hears in his head. Yet for his new album, Songs From The Vanished Frontier, Cohen assembled a small band and booked time in a high-end recording studio. Consequently, he made sure there was a strong foundation underpinning all the planned musical grandeur. “I knew the sonic possibilities were broader than ever before, so I made a point to write the entire album on an acoustic guitar before delving into recording,” says Cohen. “I wanted to believe in the songs in their rawest form.”
It’s certainly easy to believe in Cohen. After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he made his name as the guitarist with indie-poppers Apollo Sunshine and as a session man (recording with the likes of Norah Jones). Yellowbirds started in 2009 after Apollo Sunshine broke up, and Cohen spent years collaborating with local New York musicians–including George Lewis, Jr., frontman for Twin Shadow–to craft In Color, Yellowbirds’ kaleidoscopic debut album. ’60s pop and psychedelia are obvious touchstones, but Cohen’s pedal steel guitar accents harken back to his love of country music while growing up in Houston.
Out May 28, Songs From The Vanished Frontier collects another homespun group of songs from this rising talent. “Young Men Of Promise” has Cohen’s sunny signature, but it’s punchier and perhaps even brighter than his past songs. Characteristically, he spent a long time tinkering with all the sonic nuances, but it sounds more perfectly natural than anything else.