Baltimore based indie singer/songwriter Cara Beth Satalino releases her second album, 'Gazing Globe', on the reliable Western Vinyl label, on June 28th.
Musically, it's quite a diverse sounding record, though at its core it's guitar driven, Americana/indie/rock and would sit well between Neil Young and Wilco were you were to arrange your collection according to style or genre. Lyrically, you could almost call it a concept album, with most of the songs written from the perspective of another version of Satalino herself. If there's a single lyrical line that encapsulates the album's theme it would be "Hiding in the sun, I see her face." Cara explains "The 'she' in the song is really a version of myself that is in there somewhere. A lighter, brighter, more optimistic person. It's a common theme on this record, and it comes down to learning to be softer to ourselves and kinder."
That lyric comes, suitably, from the album's opening track, 'I See Her Face', a song about embracing optimism, something that doesn't come naturally to a realist like Satalino.
The album's title refers to the writer's search for self. “I like the image of a gazing globe [aka a yard globe, garden globe, gazing ball, etc.] under a full moon at night, where you can see a reflection, but it’s not clear what it is." The writing process may not have been cathartic, but reflecting on it seems to have been informative. "I guess I am searching for answers. I think everyone is, it's part of the human experience. I have always gotten to know myself through writing songs. Especially in my youth, it was like therapy. I guess it still is. I can look back at my discography and trace my personal growth. Now that I've had some time to think about this recent record, I can really see what it was that I was going through, and what some of the lyrics are really saying. It's not always apparent to me in the moment, though."
'YWLGOML' is a song about having a determination to follow your instincts. Cara Beth describes what inspired the track: "Sometimes life is hard, and personal growth is hard and it seems easier to walk away than to face certain challenges. This song is about the things that keep calling you back. It's about the undeniable gut feelings that you must follow, even when it's the more difficult choice."
Maybe one such gut feeling drove Cara Beth to repair her long term relationship with band member and collaborator, Chester Gwazda. While writing the album, Satalino found herself lost and listless after she and Gwazda decided to take a break. In an effort to grapple with her sense of anxiety and self-doubt, and ultimately evolve emotionally and spiritually, she began trying to find meaning through daily meditation practice and writing the songs for the album. “I think I was trying to get back to myself and my identity, separate from my relationship,” says Satalino. “For this record I was trying to articulate a feeling of disassociation, or something sort of intangible, surreal, and ethereal. I wanted it to be less literal and more of an illustration of a feeling.” The pair are now back together, and perhaps some valuable lessons have been learned. "Being in a band together is interesting. On one hand it's great to be sharing this thing you love with the people you love, but it's also hard and can be a sort of drain on our relationship if we let it. It can be hard to separate the relationship from the band, and the band from the relationship."
A song which seems to move away from the central theme (though again, instinct is in there somewhere) is 'Album for Ghosts', which has a concept that many a keen fan of music would find irresistible. In her own words, it was written during “a period where I was obsessed with finding music from the past that has a cult following now, but never really ‘caught on’ at the time it was released, either because it was ahead of its time or simply because no one had really heard it. I was thinking of the music industry today and how it’s basically flooded with musical content. And how with a changing world (climate change, etc.), we might not be in a position to be searching the archives of Bandcamp for musical relics in 50+ years. In the end it was like ‘You’re going to do this anyway, despite the outcome.’”
So, during this obsessive search, what music did Cara Beth discover? "Anna Domino is probably my favorite find. Her EP 'East and West' is something I've listened to weekly for the past two years. Also, Linda Perhacs album 'Parallelogram' is brilliant. Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Ernie Graham, The Cleaners from Venus, and Francis Bebey are some of my favourites."
Do any contemporary artists, perhaps label mates, find their way onto Cara Beth's playlist? "I really like the latest Stephen Steinbrink record. He is such a great songwriter and lyricist. I have been a fan of Caroline Says and Air Waves for a while now, and Ava Luna. Outside of Western Vinyl, there have been a lot of great records out this year and my most recent listens have been Cate Le Bon, Aldous Harding, Shannon Lay, Dehd, and Weyes Blood."
We concur with those selections and we'd add 'Gazing Globe' to the list. It may be lyrically personal and introspective, but these are universal themes, and the music itself has a classic, timeless quality.