Finding her footing on her new album, Northwest songwriter Kassi Valazza pairs with friends from TK & The Holy Know Nothings to plumb country, Canyon Folk, and British Folk alike. With an ear towards a trip into the ‘70s, Valazza’s songs are equally at home in the jukebox jumble next to Linda Ronstadt, Judee Sill, Fairport, and Trees. Blending her roots in the Southwest with a more expansive indie ripple, picked up from her adopted Portland home, Valazza’s album proves more nimble than the average country crooner. Like fellow West Coasters Jess Williamson and Pearl Charles, her songs adopt a timeless temperature, pouring through jealousy, devotion, dissolution, and distance.
The Know Nothings push Valazza’s sound much further than her self-released debut. As they had on pre-album single, “Early Morning Rising,” Valazza and the band ably wrestle the sound into headier waters. Things turn cosmic on standout single “Watching Planes Go By,” a six-minute stretcher that finds her channeling the winding paths of Unhalfbricking, letting the songwriter channel her inner Sandy D while the band lays into their own “Sailor’s Life-”sized landscape. The country countenance returns as the album expands, dancing down the bars of “Smile” before darkness descends on some of her most affecting material — the pre-dawn shudder of “Welcome Song,” and the backwards glances of “Long Way From Home.” The album floats away from the speakers with a stately cover of Michal Hurley, fading the album’s mercurial glow with the broken saunter of “Wildgeeses.”
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