Itasca did not make a good first impression. The first sound on the album is a single drum beat to open “Buddy,” a dissatisfying song with a dissatisfying title. The first vocal line of that track sounds weak and hollow. Singer/songwriter Kayla Cohen gives this kind of performance at many points, occasionally sounding downright out of tune. However, Open To Chance has its shining moments, and they may be just enough to buy it some airtime. Tracks like “Carousel” and “Angel” are charming and more musically solid. The emotional character is slightly reminiscent of John Denver, if we can say that without giving this debut album too much credit. It’s pleasantly soft, calm, innocent folk or country, something one might want to listen to while driving through the mountains.
It should be noted that Cohen’s guitar work sounds just fine throughout, at least from the perspective of someone with no guitar expertise. It gives a solid base to the vocals and doesn’t distract. The same goes for other light wind instrumentation by other musicians found on a few tracks.
Listening to this album has been surprising enjoyable, despite nasty first impressions. After the first ten minutes, it’s calm and smooth enough to disappear behind the listener’s work. Music doesn’t always need to actively assert itself as art to be good art.
Recommended If You Like: John Denver (barely)
Recommended Tracks: 6 (Carousel), 8 (Angel), 10 (Right This Time), 11 (Bonafide)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Joe Underwood on 11/12/2016