Sonya Cotton: When I Go Home (Album Review & Exclusive Mp3)

No one so beautifully interprets heartache as Sonya Cotton. Her new album, When I Go Home, continues where her exquisite previous album, It is so, left off. Sonya’s lovely, otherworldly lilt narrates the loss of loved ones and nature over melancholy, multi-instrumental folk melodies in the classic, masterful way of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.



By the banks of the Yuba river
I received the dreaded call
that began the slow unwinding
of the life that I had known

From the mystery comes beauty
from the mystery comes strife
every moment at the mercy
of a force we cannot describe

The standout track is “Bloodroot.” Sonya says: “‘Bloodroot,’ in addition to being about a polar bear, is also about my mother’s losing fight with cancer. (As you may know, bloodroot is a plant that some claim can be used to pull tumors out of the body. Others believe there is no scientific/medical merit to this.) Though my mom never used Bloodroot, for me it was a symbol of the last strand of hope or last ditch effort in her battle with this illness.

That kind of metaphorical depth is a trademark of Sonya’s lyrics, particularly on this album and its predecessor. Every Sonya Cotton song is like a rich, poetic book.

Other highlights are “Yuba,” “Time Shows No Care,” “Don’t Want to Say Goodbye,” and “My Heart Lives,” but the entire album is truly, extraordinarily beautiful.

Sonya was kind enough to grant Muruch an exclusive mp3 download of “Bloodroot”. If you like what you hear, please support this talented independent artist by purchasing the full album at Bandcamp.

Sonya Cotton – Bloodroot (mp3)*

*posted for limited time w/ artist’s permission

Buy @ Bandcamp

Sonya Cotton: New Covers EP!

The sublime Sonya Cotton just released a new, four-track EP called More Of You. The EP is comprised of covers of four classic jazz standards. I love Sonya’s voice and I love classic jazz, so it’s no surprise I love this EP. I especially like the romantic opener, “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” which fits Sonya’s lovely voice like an elegant glove. Originally recorded for eight generous donators to Sonya’s magnificent It Is So album (my #1 of 2011), the More Of You EP is now available for all of us to enjoy and purchase via Bandcamp…

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2011

This year’s top album list pretty much assembled itself throughout the year. The top 4 in particular are albums I expect to continue to listening to over and over for years to come. Click on the album titles to read the full reviews, purchase the albums, and, in some cases, download mp3s…

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2011

25. Bell X1: Bloodless Coup

…turns the band’s signature blend electro-pop and rock up a notch

Buy @ Amazon

Hey Anna Lena by Bell X1

24. The Good Natured: Skeleton

…combine catchy electro-pop with airy dream-pop….What sets The Good Natured’s songs apart is the occasional splash of exotic strings or thunderous, syncopated beats. I’m enjoying this album immensely.

Buy @ Amazon

23. Shona Foster: The Moon & You

…moody piano melodies with subtle instrumental and vocal flourishes

Buy @ Amazon

Shona Foster – The Moon & You (Sampler) uploaded by Beach Hut Records

22. Mediaeval Baebes: Illumination

…churns the all-female vocal ensemble’s signature Gothic choir sound with even more exotic instrumentation, faster tempos and fiercer wails….brimming with dark drama, intoxicating rhythms and haunting choral harmonies

Buy @ Amazon

21. The Decemberists: The King is Dead

…From the opening blast of harmonica through the finale, The Decemberists have woven layers of delicate instrumentation and poetic lyrics into even the most buoyant and infectious song on this album.

Buy @ Amazon

20. Driftwood Fire: How to Untangle a Heartache

…truly a delight…airy pop-folk songs…”Appalachian Hills” is the album’s biggest stunner. The haunting folk ballad explores the beautiful landscape and horrific racism in the Shenandoah valley during and after the Civil War.

Buy @ Amazon

19. Zola Jesus: Conatus

…dark and entrancing pop songs…slinky beats, a chilling trill of piano and Zola’s haunting multi-layered howls make “Vessel” absolutely hypnotic.

Buy @ Amazon

18. Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes

…Quirky, moody, syncopatedly rhythmic, femme electro-pop and indie-rock

Buy @ Amazon

Youth Knows No Pain by LykkeLi

Unrequited Love by LykkeLi

17. Patrick Wolf: Lupercalia

…marries the electro-pop of his recent releases with the eccentric troubadour style of his early albums, then takes things a step beyond with classical strings, big brass and a newfound lyrical optimism.

Buy @ Amazon

16. Matraca Berg: The Dreaming Fields

…the music on this album is exquisite and the songs examine deeper, darker themes than are typically found in the modern country-pop era

Buy @ Amazon

15. The Civil Wars: Barton Hollow

…a gorgeous, intimate blend of pretty pop melodies and sparsely atmospheric folk with an occassional punch of rowdy country-blues.

Buy @ Amazon

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow (mp3)*

14. Company of Thieves: Running from a Gamble

…Lead singer Genevieve Schatz’ voice is distinctively strong and pretty, and the band’s pop-rock songs are far more catchy and lyrically substantial than anything on the radio…one of those albums I like more with each listen.

Buy @ Amazon

Company of Thieves – Modern Waste (mp3)*

13. Zaz

…The poor kid must be sick of the comparisons, but what else can I say here? This little gem of an album sounds like Edith Piaf singing modern, slightly quirky, jazz and pop tunes. I adore it…There really are no weak tracks on the album, the intricacies and charm of the arrangments are a perfect match for Zaz’ superb and distinctive voice.

Buy @ Amazon

12. Imelda May: Mayhem

…adds just enough modern rock noise to Imelda’s signature growling rockabilly sound to make it interesting without losing the retro style that makes her music so charming.

Buy @ Amazon

11. Sarah Slean: Land and Sea

…grand in scope and beautifully complex, yet one of the most irresistibly accessible collections I’ve ever heard. This magnificent new song cycle finds Sarah taking pop, folk, rock and classical to places they’ve never been before.

Buy @ Amazon

Sarah Slean – Amen by muruch

10. Flogging Molly: Speed of Darkness

…more of a American rock musical sound than the seminal Celtic punk band’s previous efforts…a lyrically brilliant and sonically solid effort inspired by the U.S. economic collapse – particularly its harsh effect on Detroit’s factory workers.

Buy @ Amazon

9. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears: Scandalous

…gives these brilliant musicians some new opportunities to show off their substantial skills…”You Been Lyin’” is the best, most exciting collaboration any album ever had. The quaking duet with “Dallas gospel funk band” The Relatives sounds like The Staples Singers and George Clinton jamming with The Darkness.

Buy @ Amazon

8. Lia Ices: Grown Unknown

…The album’s brilliance lies in Lia’s unusual use of instrumental embellishments to punch up her otherwise gentle melodies…Lia’s beautiful voice makes even the most basic ballad absolutely stunning.

Buy @ Amazon

Lia Ices – Daphne (mp3)*
Lia Ices – Grown Unknown (mp3)*

7. Eva Cassidy: Simply Eva

…previously unreleased material by the late, great Eva Cassidy…composed entirely of acoustic versions of Eva’s best known recordings. Accompanied only by the soft strum of her guitar, Eva’s extraordinary voice is beautifully displayed in this exquisite collection.

Buy @ Amazon

6. Tori Amos: Night of the Hunters

…One of the more impressive releases of 2011 so far, Night of the Hunters was an ambitious undertaking for Tori Amos and one that, despite its weaknesses, can be called a success. It’s also a definite step in the right direction for the songstress and has won my loyalty back after a decade of disillusionment.

Buy Night of the Hunters @ Amazon

and

Tori Amos: Sin Palabras (Night of the Hunters Instrumental)

…Sin Palabras has all of the strengths of Night Of Hunters, yet none of the weaknesses…gorgeous instrumental version illuminates all of the intricacies and nuances of the arrangements. The brilliance of Tori’s piano playing, as well as that of her accompanying orchestra musicians, is put on full display.

Buy Sin Palabras @ Amazon (only $4.99!)

5. Florence + the Machine: Ceremonials

…has almost Seraphic reverence to its bombast. And Florence Welch’s unearthly wails remain unparalleled and mesmeric.

Buy @ Amazon

4. Heather Nova: 300 Days at Sea

…Heather’s unusually gorgeous voice has always been the driving force in her songs, but her intricate layering of high energy pop-rock instrumentation with haunting folk melodies continues to put her music into a category of its own.

Buy @ Amazon

3. Alexis Marceaux: Orange Moon

…a brassed up brand of eerie indie-rock, melodic pop, delicate folk and the lightest hint of Zydeco…From her first wail in the mesmeric, churning, chill-producing opener, “Leila and the Orange Moon,” I knew I would love this album.

Buy @ Amazon

Orange Moon – Sneak Hear by AlexisMarceaux

2. The Sweetback Sisters: Lookin’ for a Fight

…a delightful nod to vintage Western swing, honky tonk and classic Nashville country…the whole album is a toe tappin’, hip shakin’ wonder. I expect it to be on my best of the year list come December.

Buy @ Amazon

1. Sonya Cotton: It is so

…I don’t recall ever having been so profoundly moved by an album. The lyrics read like classic poetry, full of beautiful, nature-evoking imagery and immense sorrow…Sonya’s broken heart is deeply embedded in the marrow of this spectacular album, as her personal loss intertwines with metaphors depicting the loss of natural habitat and sanctuary for animals in the wild. Such personal and universal themes coupled with lush, intricate arrangements must surely destine It is so to become a folk classic.

Buy @ Sonya’s Site

*all mp3s & streams uploaded by & posted w/ permission of artists, labels and/or their PR reps

Sonya Cotton: It is so

Set for release August 30th, Sonya Cotton’s third album, It is so, came to me unexpectedly in a handwritten, pastel green envelope and I don’t recall ever having been so profoundly moved by an album. The lyrics read like classic poetry, full of beautiful, nature-evoking imagery and immense sorrow. The album’s dedication revealed that this gorgeous, mournful masterpiece was born of the back-to-back deaths of Sonya’s mother and a close friend. Sonya’s broken heart is deeply embedded in the marrow of this spectacular album, as her personal loss intertwines with metaphors depicting the loss of natural habitat and sanctuary for animals in the wild. Such personal and universal themes coupled with lush, intricate arrangements must surely destine It is so to become a folk classic.


Remember and do pray for me, who’s lost a precious friend
Your pleasures here can’t always be, your joys must have an end
My dear companions snatched away, and I’m near left alone
In grief and sorrow here I’ll stay, and like a dove I’ll moan

“Man in a Tree with a Gun,” which incorporates the traditional Appalachian folk song “Remember and Do Pray For Me,” opens the album with a quiet, dirge-like verse then explodes into a chill-producing choir of voices – all driven by the deep, steady beat of a solitary drum.

“Frozen Hands,” which originally appeared on Out of the Ocean, is a gentle, lovely ballad that puts Sonya’s voice on almost perfect display.

The haunting, grief-stricken “Washington” and “It Wasn’t Long Ago” seem most directly and intensely inspired by her mother’s life and passing.

The anguished but exquisite “Regrets” is the song that will wring the tears from your eyes if you have ever lost someone you loved dearly but took for granted.

“Song For Eric” is a tribute to Sonya’s friend, Eric Bayer, who was diagnosed with cancer just two months after her mother died from the same disease. Eric himself died just four months later at the young age of thirty-four. The song, which references Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods,” is an ethereal folk ballad worthy of Joni Mitchell.

Sonya’s voice has never sounded so beautiful and her songwriting has never been as brilliant. Yet what a price she paid for such glory.

Sonya Cotton – Man in a Tree with a Gun (mp3 expired)*

*mp3 provided by & posted w/ permission of artist

*widget uploaded to Bandcamp by artist

It is so will be made available for donation rather than sale on August 30th with half of the proceeds benefitting The American Bird Conservancy, a non-profit animal welfare organization her mother once worked for.

Sonya Cotton’s Official Site (Buy on Aug. 30th)
Buy @ Bandcamp

Sonya Cotton: Out Of The Ocean

Sonya Cotton’s music has an acoustic folk sound akin to Dar Williams or the softer side of Lizzie West. Out Of The Ocean was recorded in a Connecticut cabin by lake, which seems a fitting setting for this pristine set. Sonya’s voice is pretty and subtle, much like her poetic lyrics and melodies.

Where comes the line between giving up and trying when your open owl face is oceans away? You’re oceans away. Where has my vessel gone? They’ve stolen it for a boat, and my gray walls have flooded now.

It’s difficult to pick out particular tracks on Out Of The Ocean, as the songs don’t have distinguishing qualities so much as they flow together to create an evenly tranquil mood. The lovely “Open Owl Face” is probably my favourite, with “Baby Isabella”, “Tumbleweeds”, and “Frozen Hands” close behind.

Sonya Cotton Official Site
Buy the CD