Some albums just pull you in, drawing you closer to hear every word, each note, the sound of a finger sliding on a fret board or a breath being drawn in singing. Before Lately, from Louisville, KY singer/songwriter extraordinaire Cheyenne Marie Mize is one of those albums. Due for national release October 12 (sonaBlast!), Mize's intimate ten-track collection of succinct, single-word-titled songs is a quiet revelation of promise: as a songwriter of simple but perfectly turned melodies, a gifted arranger and multi-instrumentalist -- most notably on violin and guitar -- and as an effortless singer with a voice of cool mint and warm molasses. No surprise that Mize has been spending some time in the company of local favorite Will "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" Oldham: both have found a way to update Appalachian folk traditions with bold brush strokes of modern, interpretive songwriting.
Mize treads softly in Americana folk, flickering torch ballads and spacious chamber pop of somber melancholy. Songs drift slowly, building line by line, unhurried and without restraint. The moody and atmospheric piano piece "Lull" (a perfect title) begins with an extended minute of echoing notes and string sounds before Mize's voice slips to the surface. "Waiting" ticks off with chiming guitar lines, setting a shadowed stage for a lovely vocal melody that twists and turns in minor chord moodiness at just the right moments. "Kind", the album's shortest piece, implores "do what you wanna do, say what you say but be kind" with a Spanish guitar and layered harmonies the only backing for Mize's sweet admonition. Close the door, turn the lights low and listen. Highly recommended.
Cheyenne Marie Mize - "Waiting" (from the album Before Lately)
Cheyenne Marie Mize - "Not" (from the album Before Lately)
Note: Pick up the recently released free EP of Among the Gold, a collection of 19th Century American parlor music by Cheyenne Marie Mize and Bonnie "Price" Billy. Get it here. Says Cheyenne:
"I had had the idea behind Among the Gold brewing for some time- originally thinking it was going to be me alone- to take some of my favorite very, very old tunes and record them. I offered the idea to Will, needing only a mic and a good room for recording, and he offered me a mic and a good room for recording. I asked him to sing a couple of the songs as duets as well. In the process we very much enjoyed singing together and we decided that they would all make great duets so it became more of a collaborative effort, with him helping me to decide on the rest of the tunes we would record, and helping me with instrumentation and arrangement decisions. And then it was.”
Photo Credit: Dan Lubbers
Photo Credit: Dan Lubbers