Photo by Jason Thrasher
“It’s rare that a song strikes so perfect a balance between foreboding and sensual, but Thayer Sarrano gets it just right on “Shaky,” the title track from her new album. The tune is a study in contrasts, pitting hard edges against the soft allure of suggestion as Sarrano wraps her whispery drawl around a flat, forceful rhythm while vaporous tendrils of steel guitar float past.”
Thayer Sarrano is forging her own path into a southern- psych-dreamland, bottling up ghosts and bringing them to life through her ethereal desert rock hymns. The tones tremble and bend, layered in swirling atmospherics. The angelic voice will pull you in close to share devastatingly beautiful and heart-breaking secrets, while shadowy figures dance in the background. This is music that envelops the listener and may transport you to another world or time. A magical place that is melancholic and haunting, yet bursting with heavenly light.
With her latest release, Shaky, The Athens, GA multi-instrumentalist sounds, more than ever, like where she is from. She grew up in a monastery and then the swamp in southern, coastal Georgia. Classically trained as a child, awakened by Grunge in the 90s, with chanting forever in her subconscious, she had always written instrumental compositions and poetry. Songwriting came when she landed in the vibrant musical community of Athens, GA and began to collaborate with friends to form her own band, as well as establish herself as a studio/touring session player (Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, T. Hardy Morris, of Montreal, Dave Marr, David Barbe, many more). Debut album, King was released in 2009 dubbing her “The new Queen of Shoegaze” – Americana UK. The sparse and raw album was recorded live in her living room in one day. Her follow up LP, Lift Your Eyes to the Hills , (2012), enters more complex arrangements and features the single “The Bend,“ written for Groninger Museum, The Netherlands, leading to consistent European touring. The record was produced by Thayer and Hank Sullivant (Kuroma, MGMT), and was an independent release as a charitable campaign for Nuci’s Space’s teenage rock camp, “Camp Amped,” of which Thayer is passionately affiliated. “Featuring heavily spiritual themes, it could have collapsed under it’s own weight, but ‘Hill’s manages to maintain a startling lightness of being.“ -Flagpole Magazine. Now, with Shaky, we see Sarrano at her bravest and most vulnerable.
Written in an unstable period of much loss, Shaky is still a record of grace and perseverance. The honest, painted lyrics weave the mystical with personal experiences. But to Thayer, it’s all real. “I’ll feel like I have to just make this quilt out of these patches of visions I’ve collected and then suddenly the song is finished and I realize it’s all true…” We start to believe her that these seemingly abstract visions are really happening, and in this other world we see pictures we can relate to. Pictures of dissolving relationships in “Crease”, “your memory unties my cells/ it breaks the line from your heart to mine…” Of the elusive in title track, “I trace your echo I follow your lead/ you’re shaky shaky but you settle me.” Of the search for something greater in “Glimpses,” “there’s a world at the same time as this one/it’s bright it trembles it glistens,” and of the beautiful ether in “Lost Art,” “their hands are open, call to the wild/ layer landscapes, breaking the sky/ I remember them from when I was a child/ it’s the same little image from inside my eyes…“
Dovetailing the thick twang of the country with the airy, echoing, spacious feeling of an empty church, Sarrano has carved out a pocket in which her otherworldly music has room to breathe. Or perhaps the pocket was already there and Sarrano stumbled upon it, becoming a vector for something deep and soulful and strange. Regardless, once you’ve stepped into that pocket with her, you’re bound to want to return.