Josaleigh Pollett = Neko Case + The Head and the Heart + Audra Mae
Ogden’s own Josaleigh Pollett brings you a flawless album that combines the swoons of the Pacific Northwest with rugged, Southern Utah. Strangers is a revival of Pollett’s 2014 EP—and this time, her earthy vocals are accompanied by a talented troupe of local musicians and a blend of country, folk and blues.
First off, Pollett’s lyrics are stunning. She cleverly discusses universal issues—love, loss, fear, hopes, dreams—and softly blankets them with metaphors that parallel the dreamy, raspy quality of her voice. A combination of honest experiences and nostalgia, Strangers is an album that will lovingly dig a hole into its listeners’ hearts and captivate them with its musical capabilities.
Strangers opens with a banjo intro on “Nebraska,” just before Pollett’s vocals break through with a folky melody. The title track, “Strangers,” brings a more somber tone than its predecessor and sets the mood for the rest of the album. A beautiful chorus serenade chimes in the middle of the song, while Pollett croons, “I never kissed your lips when you were sober / Well, the whiskey was singing in my throat.”
If you’re an avid listener of the cello and other strings, you’ll surely want to give this album a listen. Strangers incorporates the ethereal quality of the strings on many of the tracks; however, this album is not short on musical variety. “Fossils” leads with waves of percussion that duel gentle guitar thrums. The track “I Hope You Win” brings the album down real slow and once again adds strings, reminiscent of an Iron and Wine intro. It takes the toughest route of all the tracks, discussing the difficulty of watching a loved one go through addiction—be it drugs, alcohol or the stagnancy of the city. “You fight,” says Pollett, “and I hope you win.”
If I had to choose my favorite song on Strangers, it would have to be an even tie between “Ghosts” and “Swim.” “Ghosts” starts off with a blues intro, eventually moving into a story about the aches from nostalgia that you can feel from a loved or lost home. “Swim,” on the other hand, is about trying to keep your head above water when you feel like you’re drowning with choices, loss and hope. “I am empty here / And you will try to fill me up / But there’s a hole that’s in my cup / And it spills out.” It’s filled with flawless, goosebump-worthy harmonies that reflect the message of the lyrics.
Whether you’re dealing with a loss, on the lookout for guiding words, vacationing in the Pacific Northwest or getting ready to move across the country, Strangers is the perfect album to resonate with and harmonize along.Check out Josaleigh Pollett’s SLUG Soundwaves for more information on the artist, or listen to Strangers at josaleighpollett.bandcamp.com. (Piper Down, 08.29) –Alex Vermillion