Initially begun as a solo side project from her time with Vivian Girls and All Saints Day, Katy Goodman’s current musical project La Sera developed a national profile with the release of three critically applauded albums — the project’s self-titled debut, Sees the Light and Hour of the Dawn. Interestingly, each successive album found Goodman expanding upon her sound, with 2014’s Hour of the Dawn being her most punk-inspired album. And with the release of “High Notes,” the first single off Music For Listening To Music To continues to cement Goodman’s reputation for expanding upon her sound while revealing an artist who has gone through both personal and artistic transitions. Sonically and structurally, the song reveals that Goodman has returned to an elegant and solid simplicity — it pairs the sort of shimmering guitar chords of The Smiths and the propulsive, old-school chugging rhythm of Johnny Cash (in particular, think of “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson” and countless others) with Goodman’s wistfully ethereal coos. And interestingly enough La Sera has added personnel to flesh out the project’s sound — Goodman’s guitarist, cowriter and husband Todd Wisenbaker, who is probably best known as a member of Listening To Music To‘s producer Ryan Adams‘ backing band.
“High Notes” makes a vital connection between punk, post-punk and renegade country that countless others have done before but while pointing out an irony at the heart of any relationship that’s busted up — that you may be take the high road, not because you actually believe it’s the best thing or the adult thing to do but because you want to appear as though you’re not as petty as you might really be and feel and because on another level you want to make sure that you’re the only one who could get the last word. And it may be the most honest and heartfelt sentiment you’ll come across in a song in some time.
The recently released music video features the members of La Sera performing at a 1960s Country-Western variety show and it seems to be the sort of show you’d see Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and others perform on — that is until things get strange with aliens, vampires and other creatures taking over the stage. It’s sweetly goofy and kitschy in a way that would be absolutely appropriate for that era.