Singer-songwriter (and former Geographer member) Kacey Johansing released her stunning sophomore album, Grand Ghosts, today. And how grand it is. Lush, moody, and dreamy, too. You can stream it now on her Soundcloud.
Along with Geographer, Johansing was also once a member of Honeycomb, and is currently one-half of experimental folk duo Yesway. Or, you might remember San Francisco's Johansing from the Localized Appreesh column last fall, in which the Kalamazoo, Michigan-born, Colorado-raised musician told me: “I love it here so much and am incredibly grateful to be a part of such insanely talented, creative, and supportive musical community.”
There's a welcome maturity to Johansing's voice (oft favorably likened to that of Joni Mitchell and her kind), a confidence that glides over twinkling piano and subtle, far-away strings, in tracks such as album opener “River” and title track “Grand Ghosts,” the latter opening with a more somber, Amelie score-esque tinkling of the organ keys. In that track, Johansing sings of her wise grandparents and tales of Lake Michigan that build beautifully to a repeated promise “And in the end/if we can't go on/we will carry each other home.”
Johansing's expert blend of classical, jazz, and folk influences comes together well on “Out to Sea,” with the subtle sound of fingers moving over downbeat acoustic guitar meeting Johansing's melancholy, “I don't want you to go/but I want you to be true/what's best for me is not what's best for you.” Even her harmonized “oh, oh, ohs,” sound emotive here, giving the sweetness a little gut-punch.
The haunting album as a whole pays tribute to loved ones that died during the making of the record (actual ghosts), along with her current Bay Area home, and her upbringing in Colorado (emotional ghosts), and features accompaniment by other local notables including Robert Shelton (of DRMS) on keyboards, Andrew Maguire (Honeycomb) on vibraphone and percussion, James Riotto (the Moanin Dove) on bass, Jeremy Harris on guitar, pianos, and string arrangements, and Ezra Lipp on drums.
The LP is available for purchase/download on her Bandcamp page, here.
Her next show is part of Noise Pop, of course:
With Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Before the Brave
Sat/2, 8pm, sold out
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF