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She's almost an alien in this So-Cal watering hole: no makeup, no push-up bra, no "work done." Pale and gaunt, hers is the only shadow on the stage as she sets up; gracefully, methodically. She seems to breathe a mental sigh before stepping up to the mic and commencing a minimal strumming. There's a tightrope mixture of shyness with the determination that helped her climb out from behind the drums she hit for Carissa's Weird and opener Patrick Park. If what she's playing is country, it's light years from Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer; again begging a list of what isn't: no twang. No gulpy "ah'm about to start cryin'" emoting. No overt drama.

But a hint of theatricality colors Cahoone's opening choice, "Runnin' Your Way." Her head is mostly down as she fixates on her guitar; her hair often obscures her face. Her impossibly sweet, husky-with-a-touch-of-sand voice stretches over the rocking-chair thump of "You Might as Well" and makes some sparks with "The Colder the Air." There's a rare bit of patter: "It's so funny, I kept telling myself before I came on that I was going to forget the lyrics, and guess what...I am." While there's no audible response, Cahoone's audience might as well be in her palm, joining her in ignoring the raucous din blasting over from the bar. Her vocals on the next few songs are some of the most evocatively beautiful I've ever heard: this woman wails like an angel with taste. By the last couple of songs, she's hit her groove.

  • Concert: Sera Cahoone
  • Date: September 9
  • Venue: Soda Bar
  • Seats: Front row, to the left
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