Album Review

Kassi Valazza - Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing

Valazza might claim to know nothing, but she's put together a growing library of songs that tap into some sort of alien wisdom, thus performing wonders within liminal spaces.

Kassi Valazza - Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing Album Cover
May 23, 2023 11:19 am GMT
Last Edited May 25, 2023 11:54 am GMT

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Kassi Valazza - Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing

Label: Fluff & Gravy Records / Loose Music

Release Date: May 26, 2023

Producers: Tyler Thompson, Kassi Valazza and Taylor Kingman.

Tracklisting:

1. Room In The City
2. Rapture
3. Corners
4. Watching Planes Go By
5. Song For A Season
6. Long Way From Home
7. Canyon Lines
8. Smile
9. Welcome Song
10. Wildageeses

Kassi Valazza is one of the few songwriters for whom the word unique might actually be a good descriptor. The Arizona-born singer has a natural, wholly unaffected otherworldliness, paired with a sound that borrows from English Folk and Country and Western, with hints of psychedelia and desert spaciousness in the margins. At their best, Valazza’s songs settle in like visions, occasionally eerie but full of nuance and empathy.

The songs here are a little shorter than the lengthier tracks of her 2019 debut Dear Dead Days, but their distinctive styles remain. Though none of these songs offer particularly quick tempos, the narratives move at surprising speed. Valazza's verses never repeat themselves; with their immediacy and directness, they seem to be ripped from handwritten letters, even when conveying difficult to describe feelings.

‘Corners’ and ‘Smile’ find Valazza dealing with mixed emotions following a relationship's end. She foregrounds the everyday realities of love in matter of fact statements, singing "I guess I could have left the light on or stayed awake to see you home / But good intentions go unnoticed and I fare better on my own".

Valazza is at home writing about contradictions most would struggle to put in song. On 'Room in the City’, Valazza offers simultaneous visions of life watching clouds on the road and at life at home, where "Copper colors and some lonely search for meaning / Keep me coming back to turning right around".

Valazza recorded the album live, with backing from TK and the Holy Know-Nothings, a Portland-based group whose catalog a listener would do well to familiarize themselves with.

The band heard the songs for the first time in-studio, allowing for a looseness that Valazza credits with allowing more magic to happen. It's at the very least incredible luck that the playing seems to match Valazza's writing perfectly. Extended passages like the guitar solo on ‘Watching Planes Go By’ or ‘Long Way From Home’s break seem to arise from within Valazza's narratives themselves.

The album's most uncanny songs might be its best. On ‘Rapture’, sparse guitar obscures a strange incident and an equally complicated relationship. The soundscape of ‘Welcome Song’ is almost frightening.

With her transfixing delivery, Valazza vows to defy a cruel former partner: "I’ll cover up your welcome song / drown it out completely / And sure as hell you’ll see me run / on feet thought to be forgiving".

Valazza might claim to know nothing, but she's put together a growing library of songs that tap into some sort of alien wisdom, thus performing wonders within liminal spaces.

8.5 / 10

Kassi Valazza's 2023 album, Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing, is released May 26, 2023 via Fluff & Gravy Records and Loose Music.

Written by Jonah Covell
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