My newest album is completely wonderful. Longtime Band Mom supporters will know MELAENA CADIZ (pronunciation key: muh-LAY-nuh cuh-DEEZ) well by now, from her albums Deep Below Heaven that I worked in 2014 as well as Rattle the Windows from 2010 (which hit NUMBER ONE on Earshot’s Folk/Roots/Blues chart as well as climbing to #99 on the Top 200!). But if this new album is an introduction to you, that’s great, it’s a perfect place to start! It’s so lovely, along the lines of a Marisa Nadler or Bill Callahan. Also RIYL my Band Mom artist Matt Bauer, because they’ve got similar sensibilities and also they’re good pals, in fact so good that he directed her new video for Track 1, the “stoned fairytale” “At the Symphony” (watch it in this nice premiere by the Fader)! NPR Music included her in their preview of the most exciting SXSW artists, The Austin 100, and Stereogum premiered a full-album stream along with a glowing review that called the sound “stripped, raw, sparse, and beautifully barren.” I had significantly less hard copies of this one than I generally like to work with (although you were more likely to get one if you were a past supporter of her records and have communicated a strong preference for physical—loyalty, consistency and communication don’t go unrewarded!!) – so make sure you do download this thing, it’s worth it!!
“It’s hard to make a clean escape,” Melaena Cadiz admits early on in her new album, Sunfair. But it’s been on her mind nonetheless. The songwriter, long based out of New York City, made a break for the West Coast in 2015, and on Sunfair she’s managed a breakthrough as well. Cadiz has honed her technique and stripped away any excess, leaving her haunting vocals and evocative storytelling unadorned, but also unencumbered.
A writing retreat in Joshua Tree earlier in the year, where she wrote the bulk of these songs, was a turning point for Cadiz. The artist, whose voice and prose are at once earthy and ethereal, wistfully recalls the sound of crows flying by. “It was so quiet you could hear the wing flaps,” she says. “There weren’t a lot of outside distractions so I found myself looking inward, taking inventory of my thoughts and reflecting on the last few years.” The result is a spacious and rhythmic solo album, driven largely by her steel-string guitar playing and swirling vocals. The songs have a brushy, hazy quality to them evocative of the vast open space and brittleness of the desert.
Like the best confessional stories, these nine tracks are deeply personal, but have a universal ring that speaks directly to the listener. threaded together by a desire to “get back to the heart of things”, songs share an inkling that life could be something different. From the opening track that playfully describes getting stoned and falling asleep at the symphony, to returning home and realizing how tethered we are to where we come from (“Goes Without Saying”) to making a break for it, “a blue tidal wave careened over our heads and you said, I’m afraid but I’m glad” (“Last Night in My Dream”); there’s the shadow of escape in its many guises, the struggle to make a break and the looming truth that wherever you go, there you are.
Sunfair is named for the dirt road that led up to the mesa where Cadiz stayed in Joshua Tree. There’s a playfulness and rawness to these tracks that seems accidental, like we’ve caught the singer off guard, singing to herself on the front porch. But the album’s landscape is skillfully crafted. It’s rich and warm and dreamy and an enchanting place to get lost in.
RIYL: Dana Falconberry, Marisa Nadler, Bill Callahan, Jason Molina, Matt Bauer, Jessica Pratt, Emmylou Harris, Joanna Newsom
Start With: 2, 3, 7, 1 FCC CLEAN
Contact me for a download link if you’re a radio rep!