In the hearts of hearts of friends and lovers and ravers on dancefloors of concrete, wood, and beloved dirt, Team Everything bloomed. Nourished and driven by true love and reverence of the magic of the dancefloor, the crafty crew has been presenting storied DIY events and sweaty club nights in Northern New Mexico for more than a decade. Team Everything parties are dear to many and known by most for their unique feel that comprises deep appreciation and admiration for the land and community that make them possible.
This land runs through Katherine Paul’s blood. And it called to her. In dreams she saw the river, her ancestors, and her home. When the land calls, you listen. And KP found herself far from her ancestral lands during a time of collective trauma, when the world was wounded and in need of healing. In 2020 she made the journey from Portland back to the Skagit River, back to the cedar trees that stand tall and shrouded in fog, back to the tide flats and the mountains, back to Swinomish.
It is a powerful thing to return to our ancestral lands and often times the journey is not easy. Like the salmon through the currents, like the tide as it crawls to shore this is a story of return. It is the call and response. It is the outstretched arms of the people who came before, welcoming her home. The Land, The Water, The Sky is a celebration of lineage and strength. Even in its deepest moments of loneliness and grief, of frustration over a world wrought with colonial violence and pain, the songs remind us that if we slow down, if we listen to the waves and the wind through the trees, we will remember to breathe.
There is a throughline of story in every song, a remembrance of knowledge and teachings, a gratitude of wisdom passed down and carried. There is a reimagining of Sedna who was offered to the sea, and a beautiful rumination on sacrifice and humanity, and what it means to hold the stories that work to teach us something.
Chord progressions born out of moments of sadness and solitude transform into the islands that sit blue along the horizon. The Salish Sea curves along her homelands, and when the singer is close to this water she is reminded of her grandmother, how she looked out at these same islands, and she’s held by spirit and memory.
The Land, The Water, The Sky rises and falls, in darkness and in light, but even in its most melancholy moments it is never despairing. That is the beauty of returning home. When you stand on ancestral lands it is impossible to be alone. You feel the arms and hands that hold you up, unwilling to let you fall into sorrow or abandonment. In her songs Katherine Paul has channeled that feeling of being held. In every note she has written a love letter to indigenous strength and healing.
There is a joy present here, a fierce blissfulness that comes with walking the trails along the river, feeling the sand and the stones beneath her feet. It is the pride and the certainty that comes with knowing her ancestors walked along the same land, dipped their hands into the water, and ran their fingertips along the same bark of cedar trees.
This is a story of hope, as it details the joy of returning. Katherine Paul’s journey home wasn’t made alone, and the songs are crowded with loved ones and relatives, like a really good party. And as the songs walk us through the land it is important we hover over the images and the beauty, the moments that mark this album as site specific. The power of this land is woven throughout, telling the story of narrow waterways, brush strokes, salmon stinta, and above all healing.
Everything clicks on Safe to Run, the fourth album from singer, songwriter and perpetual searcher Esther Rose. It’s the quiet culmination of years spent fully immersed in a developing artistry, and presents Rose’s always vividly detailed emotional scenes with new levels of clarity and control. As with previous work, her songwriting transfigures the chaos and uncertainty of a life in progress, but here she sharpens the pop elements and attaches unshakably catchy hooks to even the darkest stretches of the journey.
After spending her formative years in Michigan, Rose relocated to New Orleans and got her start in music there while awash in the unparalleled energy of the city’s scene. Over the course of her first three records, an infatuation with traditional country gradually evolved into a more distinctive style and increasingly personal material. Rose’s music traced her changes as she moved through stages, studios, and home addresses, and she eventually left NOLA for New Mexico where the two year writing process for Safe to Run unfolded. Making the transition to this new environment after spending the better part of a decade building a life somewhere else demanded looking around and taking stock. All the heaviness, sweetness, levity, and self-discovery that had led up to that point began funneling into new songs that moved slower in order to dig deeper, taking on the intricate hues of a desert horizon as they came together.
Making the leap from the comfortable to the unknown defines every aspect of Safe to Run. Since she started writing songs, Rose has self-imposed some strategic challenges in order to keep things interesting. A longstanding rule to never recycle chord progressions remained in place, as did a newer intention of avoiding the temptation to write another heartbreak song. Applying limitations like these allowed the album’s expressive range to become more nuanced. Rose takes an unblinking look at her own vulnerabilities as well as more universal concerns, somehow never taking herself too seriously in the process. This manifests as a critique of the insidious sexism of the music industry on “Dream Girl,” but quickly melts into a hazy memoryscape of the dive bar drama and suspended hovering of her early 20s on “Chet Baker.” The song “Safe to Run” (a gorgeous duet with Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra) directly merges the personal with the global, superimposing feelings of spiritual displacement onto the larger, looming dread of climate grief. Rose breathes in the ecstasy of the natural world in one line and makes fun of herself a few bars later. There are ghosts in the room for most of her songs, but she’s invited them in and is cracking jokes with them over a drink or two.
The album’s production takes another giant step forward, again motivated by a drive to go somewhere new. Lyle Werner, a constant presence on Esther’s albums, again adds his rust-colored fiddle to “St. Francis Waltz” and the gentle country sway of “Spider” also offers faint echoes of the twangy glow of earlier material, but there’s new experimentation with arrangements and instrumentation. Long-time collaborator Ross Farbe went from acting as a co-producer on 2021’s How Many Times to a full on producer role here, adding understated synthesizers to accentuate melodic presence and atmospheric textures to cast a deeper vibe. The bridging from past to present was further embodied by the cast of players, with Rose bringing in New Orleans group Silver Synthetic as a backing band on some tunes, and working with her new bandmates– Taoseño’s Lonnie Leary on drums and Meredith Stoner on bass— on others. Across all of the tracks, the open-air, live-in-the-room sound she tended towards in the past was paired with a heightened exploration of multitracking and overdubs. The album is a network of meticulously balanced layers that whisper secrets instead of shouting declarations. Listening closely you’ll hear nods to Elliott Smith in the close-miced vocal doubling of “Stay,” dreamy drum machine guiding the steady hop of “Levee Song,” and a Mellotron tossing even more glitter into the already sparkling pop of “Insecure.”
Ultimately all of these new advancements become twinkles of light in the background as they fold into the big picture impact of the songs themselves. With grace, subtlety, and a knowing grin, Esther Rose translates her world into eleven curious and captivating scenes. While the songs are stunning one by one, absorbing Safe to Run as a whole feels like witnessing something taking shape, experiencing the headspins of the elevation and the slow return to equilibrium as the clouds start clearing. It’s the sound of a singular voice reaching its purest form, finally emerging.
Joe Purdy is an internationally acclaimed folk artist who has released 14 albums and a soundtrack to a movie in the last 15 years. Along the way, his songs have turned up on numerous TV shows, film soundtracks and he has co-starred in an acclaimed film.
“American Folk” marked Joe’s first foray into acting. He also contributed to much of the soundtrack. It earned several awards including Best New Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival.
Joe’s last album, “Who Will Be Next?”, is deeply rooted in the tradition of artists such as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. It is a searing commentary of our turbulent times. Joe’s determination to honor the giants of American folk music while applying his formidable skills as a writer and vocalist reveal him as a compassionate observer and participant in our times.
Joe has just finished a new album which will be released soon and supported by a Worldwide Tour in 2022.