"It’s that’s feeling of acceptance when love isn’t enough,” explains Kassi Valazza about her new single ‘Smile’. “Finding comfort in a life spent alone."
The third single to be taken from her forthcoming album, Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing, is further proof that the deafening buzz that seems to be gathering around her is fully justified. The latest in a lineage of American country-folk singers that begins on the paths paved by Joan Baez and Judy Collins down through Karen Dalton, Linda Perhacs and the Ladies from the Canyon before widening out with artists like Melissa Carper and Margo Cilker today, Kassi Valazza’s take on traditional country feels like a gust of fresh air blowing down from her adopted home of Portland, Oregon.
On the follow up to her Dear Dead Days album from 2019, she leans into the influence of British folk singers like Bridget St John, Vashti Bunyan and Sandy Denny as much as she does her American antecedents, and it adds something refreshingly crisp and clear-eyed to her traditional country folk sound. If you're a fan of Esther Rose, Sierra Ferrell or Bella White and you don't know Kassi Valazza yet, you are about to lose your shit!
Her latest single follows a pocketed farewell note from a lover as it takes her on an unexpected journey towards self-realisation and liberation, turning the typical loved-and-lost tale completely on its head. “I was struggling to walk a straight line when I met you months ago,” she sings, before ruefully adding, “I thought by now I’d be much better at being loved and letting go.”
In the same way that the songs in Disney movies are often sung by the characters when they are revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings, ‘Smile’ feels like it’s caught Valazza off-guard in a rare moment of intimacy; the telecaster flapping around her like Scuttle from The Little Mermaid while the pedal steel begins quietly cooing at her side as she delivers her dreamlike soliloquy with all the plaintive, uncomplicated warmth of a heartbroken Disney princess.
Kassi Valazza’s ‘Smile’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
The video, directed by Boramie Sao and edited by Boramie Sao and Chris Brochu, stars Valazza as a hastily made-up clown getting up in the morning and roaming around the rocky plains with a copy of Paul Cline’s Fools, Clowns and Jesters, just going about her daily life, painting pottery and playing card games with her seemingly unbothered friends.