ALBUM REVIEW: Kassi Valazza Finds Magic in Life’s Mysteries
Kassi Valazza is moving at her own pace, singing in her own time. The Portland, Oregon-based songwriter has an especially unhurried way about her vocals, which mostly float but occasionally curl at the ends like sun-kissed tendrils. These unexpected little sunbursts are what make her latest outing, Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing, the kind of song collection suited to slow, hazy days of reflection, ideally spent satisfyingly alone. Valazza is a keen observer, particularly of the natural world and its power to reframe and shape a complicated tangle of emotions.
In album-opener “Room in the City,” Valazza gives life to clouds, “embarrassed by the blue that follow them around.” “The sun sets its chin” on a highway in “Canyon Lines.” Elsewhere on the record, winds blow knowingly and with fortuitous results, the whiteness of teeth is worn down, the blue chased out of eyes, the lines on a face likened to canyons. It is these whimsical and vivid turns of phrase that make Valazza’s view of the world especially absorbing. The wide-eyed curiosity in her voice evokes true folk singers like Karen Dalton or Joni Mitchell, artists unafraid of putting their eccentricities into words, into songs. A love song isn’t just a love song. It’s a pastoral meditation on how being in love can make one feel heavy as a deeply rooted tree. A road song isn’t just about loneliness. It is a chance to commune with nature and learn the secret language of mountains, rivers, and birds.
Valazza’s songs, like smooth-edged gemstones, have a healing quality to them. Her ability to see things in a different way helps shed a bit of light on life’s many mysteries and seem to offer a kind of permission to embrace a wandering imagination. Better yet, to follow it anywhere and be amazed by the glimmers of truth it reveals.
Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing is out May 26 on Fluff & Gravy Records.