Shana Cleveland

Hardly Art Records, 2023

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The third solo album from the visual artist, writer, songwriter and musician Shana Cleveland, Manzanita was penned when the Grass Valley, California resident was pregnant or just after giving birth, and is her first release since very recently and successfully treating breast cancer.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“A Ghost” gets the listen off to a very intimate start, where Cleveland’s distinctly dreamy and soulful pipes are met with gripping acoustic guitar and no lack of charming atmosphere. “Faces In The Firelight” arrives pretty quickly after, and recruits some neo-folk ideas that are complemented by precisely bowed strings and well-timed drumming in the hazy climate.

Into the middle, the hypnotic dreaminess of “Quick Winter Sun” is both poetic and pretty, though it’s the glowing pedal steel courtesy of Olie Eshleman on “Gold Tower” that will draw anyone into Cleveland's unique brand of folk music.

Further still, “Mayonnaise” uses graceful and firm piano to its advantage amid the vivid storytelling and moody pedal steel, while ''Sheriff Of The Salton Sea” swirls with so much beauty thanks to the fluid dulcimer from Will Sprott that’s actually a vocal-less offering. “Walking Through The Morning Dew” exits the listen, and it carries a bit of a haunting quality that’s psychedelic, cozy and truly captivating in its cautiously adventurous demeanor.

Cleveland handles guitar and vocals throughout, and, in addition to the above mentioned, she’s joined by Johnny Goss (bass) and Abbey Blackwell (bass) for these nature-inspired and artistically executed versions of folk music that rarely sit in one place very long. Anyone who appreciates powerful versus gentle song craft will be in awe of Manzanita, as the songstress documents much-welcomed change in her life (starting a family, relocating to the country) with so much heart and soul.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2023 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hardly Art Records, and is used for informational purposes only.