Seattle singer-songwriter Jill Cohn has written plenty of sad songs in her life, but many of the songs on her latest album, "Beautiful I Love You," are happy tunes, with lyrics about forgiveness, redemption and human relationships.
"I think most of my songs have that dark, melancholy side to them, but as a person and songwriter, I always strive to bring in the irony or the lighter side," she said. "In even the worst imprisoning situation, there is always a force that is working toward our liberation. My spiritual life seems to instruct and remind me of that direction. I'm no Pollyanna by any stretch of the imagination - like everyone else, I know firsthand that life can simply hurt and feel so hard - but it's what you do with that experience ... (that) I'm most interested in for my personal life."
Cohn considers Colorado her second home, she said, and she returns to town to perform at the Vilar Center on Sunday night, when she opens for Danielle Ate the Sandwich at the Underground Sound concert series. For ticket information, see the story on page B1.
Vail Daily: You performed at the Vilar Center last season when you opened for Horse Feathers. What do you remember about the experience?
Jill Cohn: The beautiful sound on stage and the warm, receptive audience and the wonderful staff make for an amazing experience for the artist. I'm so excited to be coming back with my duet!
VD: You recently released your ninth album, "Beautiful I Love You." Tell me about it.
JC: My ninth CD was a labor of love! I started writing it while in a long-distance relationship and eventually took a "leap of faith" and moved down to California to be closer to this man. We were not real sure if our connection was going to be long term, but I decided to take a chance on it because we were also musical partners, as well. There are so many things that can assail one in the beginning of a relationship, let alone one that has 800 miles between you and the person that you're trying to get to know. Thus, the CD has an intermix of both the good and bad aspects of love and how we hope that our human experience of love between ourselves and another will somehow spur us on to find a deeper love between our own soul and the divine. The CD was produced by Seattle's Martin Feveyear, who also produced Brandi Carlile and Rosie Thomas. The disc also features sessions recorded in Los Angeles with Jim Watts, who won a Grammy for his work on Emmylou Harris' "Red Dirt Girl." The L.A. sessions also include performances by bassist Marcus Blake, who I met in Boulder on a night off from my own tour schedule, while Marcus was on tour with Daniel Lanois. All the guitar textures are by Dave Sampson, who will join me on stage at the Vilar.
VD: What can people expect from your show on Sunday?
JC: My songs are presented in a modern, folktronica-ambient duet, featuring Dave Sampson with an array of guitars and textures making a lush backdrop to my songs. I am performing on a unique, small-body, high-strung guitar, which has a bell-like quality and really was the centerpiece for much of my writing for "Beautiful I Love You." Dave and I spent a lot of time figuring out which instruments best conveyed the spirit of each song, and we are so excited to present these songs on the Vilar stage. If time permits, I'm sure to throw in a few of my older tunes from one of my previous releases.
VD: How did you meet Danielle, of Danielle Ate the Sandwich, and start opening for her?-
JC: I met Miss Danielle online and asked her if she wanted an opener for her show at the Vilar. Her music is so fun and our styles different that I thought it would be a good fit for an evening of music. Also, I've been reaching out to the younger, up-and-coming community of new songwriters on the scene, as I think it's a great contrasting evening of music for the audience to hear songs from two different generations in one evening. I've been a touring artist since 1996, and it's simply fun and fresh for me to be able to share an evening with another musical talent.