Elevate Difference

Red River

San Francisco artist Sonya Cotton’s latest release, Red River, is a fantastic album for a quiet day. I imagine one of those long, tired days when you just don’t want to get out of bed—Sunday maybe, the rain drumming upon the window, your tea wafting gentile tendrils of lavender chamomile, and you want something to wrap you in comfort. Beginning softly with “Wild Wind” and winding through one’s headspace to the delicately sparse “Cold and Dreamless,” a relaxed tenderness carries you throughout the entire album as you find yourself feeling at home in Cotton’s songs.

Cotton’s voice is delicate yet she unleashes an amazing power in her unassuming vocals that will surprise listeners. A highlight of this release is the sweet ballad “Red River” with its declaration of survival and faith. She sings, “though the clouds are coming in, this body is stirring, our vessel is waiting, don’t be afraid, there is glory ahead,“ and you cannot help but feel safe. The entire song is a reassurance that allows one to lay weight to the hands of fate instead of trying to grasp control. Like the river Cotton sings of, one moves freely in subtle contemplation while listening to this song.

While not all the songs have lyrics that would be appropriate, you might choose certain selections from this album to create a lullaby album for your favorite little munchkin. “Cold and Dreamless” and “Song for Tony” are both sweet rhythms that could be played gently to lull the tender young-uns to sleep and dreams. The tender guitar plucking in “Song for Tony” is a nice accompaniment to the loving lyrics that seem to speak of a deep affection. This album is a portrait of gorgeous moments captured and cherished by Cotton—moments honored by the pedestal of her haunting voice and an obvious dedication to her craft.

Written by: Djuna A. Davidson, December 20th 2009