At this point in Katy Goodman’s career it seems fairer to refer to her as ‘founding member of La Sera’ rather than ‘former Vivian Girls bassist.’ Having already released three critically acclaimed albums over the past five years, her newest album Music For Listening To Music To will exceed the output of her previous band. After joining La Sera in 2012, Todd Wisenbaker (Whispertown 2000, Jenny & Johnny), went on to produce La Sera’s punky third album Hour of The Dawn. Fast forward to the present day and find that Goodman and Wisenbaker are now married and La Sera is officially a two person band. Adding a new element to the songwriting probably had just as much influence on this album as did recording it at PAX AM studios with Ryan Adams producing.
Just a few seconds into the opening track “High Notes” and it’s clear that this is a back-to-basics album compared to Goodman’s past two entries. The jangly guitar, train beat drumming, and Goodman’s swooning vocals come together to make “High Notes” not only a strong debut single for the album, but something that would make Neko Case jealous. “A Thousand Ways” finds Goodman singing out ‘Love can do all of these things’ over a dreamy Fifties-style ballad complete with reverb guitar and tamborines. In a similar fashion, “Take My Heart” is another beautiful crooning ballad with slightly distorted slide guitar playing over bright riffs. While most songs on the album fall short of the three minute mark, “Take My Heart” clocks in at about four and half minutes and the song could go even longer and leave the listener wanting to hear more of the hauntingly gorgeous chorus.
Not all songs on the album are slow ballads; “Time To Go” is a straight up rocker that features echo-y slide guitar, lively bass and punky, straight ahead drumming. Falling right in the middle between rocker and ballad is “Begins To Rain”, which is a song about growing apart in a relationship and learning to come to grips with that realization. ‘Learning to live again without my heart/trusting that you’ll thrive again/So dumb’ precedes the chorus of ‘But, we are not same as we used to’.
Goodman and Wisenbaker’s partnership also includes co-writing benefits on the new album. “One True Love” was the first song that they wrote together and shaped the direction of the album. The song trades vocal duties with Wisenbaker singing the verse and Goodman’s cooing vocals taking the chorus. This dichotomy is reversed with “I Need An Angel” where Goodman takes point singing out the verses over speedy guitars and Wisenbaker’s raspy vocals croon out the verse. The rocker “Nineties” sees Wisenbaker singing the entire song with Ryan Adams playing synthesizer.
Music For Listening To Music To may be the most settled release that Goodman has put out thus far. Whether it’s having a partner to write with or just experience and years combining to bring a maturity to her songs, or just a natural progression, everything seems to come together to create a stellar album.
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