Kassi Valazza @ The Folklore Rooms – 26/04/23
Kassi Valazza brings a taste of Americana mixed with a summer psychedelia, as she tells visceral, meandering tales that capture the imagination and the heart as you listen.
On the last leg of a tour, it’s exciting to have such a talent find her way from the bustling scene of Portland, Oregon to our corner of the world in the fairy-light, back-lit stage of The Folklore Rooms, where her songs spellbind a sold-out crowd.
Starting the evening, Zoe Watson briefly introduces herself and the five songs she’s about to sing, then lets the music do the talking. The crowd is compelled to a silence in which you could hear a pin drop, as her voice carries a resonance that marries beautifully over her stripped back piano accompaniments. A tonality similar to the likes of Freya Ridings and Birdy, she sings with a sincerity as she explores themes of love and heartbreak, wondering if the subject of her song Ready will be ‘coming through town soon’ - expressing that universal feeling of longing.
A round of applause from a clearly excited crowd, as Valazza takes to the stage, with her backing band, Tobias Panton on the pedal steel and Erik Clampitt on the keyboard. A gentle, glistening soundscape reminiscent of bird song at dawn begins the first song of their set, introducing Kassi Valazza's lyrical world of longing, wandering and nature.
On her third of her set, Little Flowers, she sings of ‘things’ she ‘couldn’t say, in the moments of each day’, but she expresses herself wonderfully with her lyrics. Sung with an quietly assured confidence, her voice echoes a wisdom: of experience, of learning patience, and a nostalgia that is blue, but never dark. ‘Bright and blue’ ribbons to wrap the memories in, that mark Valazza as brilliant storyteller, and an instrumental bridge that exudes the warmth and serenity of a sunset, perhaps over Brighton beach, or the grand forests of Oregon, or canyons of Valazza’s home state, Arizona.
Early Morning Rising brings the country crooner out of Valazza’s voice, as she mimics a twanging pedal steel on the bridge, and sings of a moment in time, when it “moves a little slow”. The half cadence leaves you wanting more when the song finished, but the feeling lingers, and the song hangs in the air for a second as the audience imagines the “early morning rising on the earth”, then applauds passionately. The band share smiles on stage and laugh as talk of what makes Portland ‘hip’, inviting suggestions from the audience, as you’re affirmed that you’re among friends.
As Panton and Clampitt leave the stage, the crowd continue to show their appreciation, and Valazza is compelled to play one more song. She takes to the stage again, this time solo, to perform a new track from her upcoming album Kassi Valazza Knows Nothing.
Understated, but never coy, Vallaza seems a genuine, down to earth storyteller who loves making music. I’m just looking forward to the summer when I can ponder on the metaphors and lose myself in the languid atmospheres of her tracks, as the sun blazes down, and there’s nothing on my mind, but the passing of time.
Words by Etienne Ferenc
Folklore Sessions returns on the 12th May at The Folklore Rooms for an all-day ALT ALT Escape showcase. With music from Steven Bamidele, Juanita Stein, King Isis, The Leaning and many many more, this event is not one to miss!
1pm - 2am
No wristband required