Unmoored By The Wind

New Images Ltd. NI027
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Folk guitarist and songwriter originally from New York State Kayla Cohen, a.k.a. Itasca, has released several small-press CDrs and cassettes over the past five years. A resident of Los Angeles since 2012, She records at home, taking inspiration from the fringes of the city’s open space and natural land. On Unmoored by the Wind, Cohen achieves new levels of clarity and expansiveness. Where 2012’s Grace Riders on the Road reveled in homemade intimacy, Unmoored by the Wind opens to the world, reaching a timeless, near-baroque yearning; each of these eleven tracks burns with a unique vision. At once soft-spoken and virtuosic, Cohen’s mesmerizing fingerpicking lays gauzy groundwork for vocal work David Keenan described as “courtly ... dazzling.” This spacious set of songs flows seamlessly between wistful interludes à la Bob Desper and fully-fledged verses of powerful, often beguiling imagery. “Two male shapes are standing / Shrouded in white cloth” sings Cohen on “Nature’s Gift,” with a plaintive candor that echoes Sibylle Baier. “They’re looking at me / Sort of smiling / Seems as if I’ve called them here.” Cohen’s voice has a windburnt quality reminiscent of Lal Waterson or Collie Ryan, but it’s tempered with sweetness, and on songs like “Colt in Hiding” she realizes an angelic luster. More than ever before, though, Cohen’s confident singing is laid bare; vocals ride on top of arrangements, taking their rightful place in the forefront. The effect is arresting, while at the same time staying true to the seductive ghostliness that has come to characterize her sound.

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