Saturday, February 09, 2008
Just a quick note for those of you enamoured with the likes of Jolie Holland, the Be Good Tanyas, Alela Diane, and Mariee Sioux; Ora Cogan is a Vancouver-based songbird (as are the Tanyas), who shares some of the appealing qualities of the above while striking out on her own musical path.
Although, like the aforementioned, she is immersed in the "old-timey" Appalachian, southern blues, and gospel stylings there is a gentle mystery about her songs that sets her apart and her guitar style underlines this. She also plays a very expressive fiddle that touches perhaps on her ventures into experimental music with other cohorts.
Like Jolie, she conjures the warm, clear, tones of the early Billie Holiday rather than her later style, which is evident in Karen Dalton's voice, and more overtly in Madeleine Peyroux and others. I don't know if it's just a coincidence or direct influence; whether "early" or " late", both Ora and Jolie list Billie as prominent among their influences.
I must admit I was struck by her picture; wondering what sort of ethnicity she arose from. Like Billie Holiday she has a Creole look; then I think "no, definitely Native American or maybe some oriental or Algerian...howabout Adzerbaijani?" Conclusion: forget about it! However, I did glean from a radio interview there is a definite Israeli connection and her father (Uri, a photo journalist) and mother (Susan, also a musician) met in Israel.
Ora hails from Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands grouped off the west coast of Canada; lying north of Washington's San Juan island and east of Vancouver Island. Descriptions of the place evoke a beautiful setting, consciously preserved, and a cultural environment that nurtures those "off the beaten path".
On hearing Ora I can only offer a grateful toast to such places and the people therein.
Ora's songs can be heard off her myspace site, here
and her website: www.oracogan.com