2021 continues last year’s exploration of pedal steel as a divining force for solace and sorrow. With a follow-up to 2017’s Balsams Johnson again inhabits the nature of loss to find the furrow of scar tissue that lays inside the mind. This time he’s looking past the wound to the world built on top of the turmoil —the good and bad that have been propped against the pain. “Raz-de-Marée” unfolds with a slow elegance, radiating a healing light that pours like relief from a sob. Notably, Johnson has sought to bring not only the emotional depth through the instrument, but to utilized particular spaces to capture an atmosphere within each track. “Johnson dug through archival recordings from Oakland DIY performance spaces to digitally extract their reverb and echo qualities. He then applied these effects—as well as the digitally modeled reverberation of a redwood forest—to the tracks on The Cinder Grove. The effect, at least on the first song, is a peaceful natural air that calms what it can’t cure. The record is out February 5th from VDSQ.
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