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red steppes’ debut A Mouth May Grow was rooted firmly in the topography of California; her sophomore release Arcs (Native Cat Recordings) is the fruit of a series of displacements, disturbances, and reorientations. Stylistically diverse, the album delivers minimalist guitar pop, mathy folk, and even a Peter Gabriel-tinged meditation on loss, finding equilibrium in songwriter Nika Aila States’ intimate vocals. 

Arcs is plush with the kind of photographic lyricism States began exploring with A Mouth May Grow; songs fondly addressed to lovers are mindful of an inevitable transience, lullabies keep account both of the world’s smallest gestures and its great ruins, and a series of scenes unfold as a hymn of sustenance, a knowing salutation aimed at fellow travelers and sailors-by-the-wind. 

States' return to the San Francisco bay – following a few years in Portland and one in Brooklyn, and motivated by a lovesickness for its hills and waterways – is an answer to the homecoming prayer of Leonine, Arcs' opening track. Prayers and eulogies dominate the next, as-yet-unnamed batch of songs; they reflect a generation's increasingly common preoccupation with wildfires, flash floods, disembodiment, disbelief, and the twin deaths of empire and climate normalcy.

a mouth may grow:
ashton / solemn bird / rampages eastward / bixby / i did not speak it / i do in the dark / what in bob's name / bodie / big desire / one for a second son / sibley
leonine / a careful garden / trouble / the quarry / high growth / the armistice / madera / what's once? / cricket songs / bitterroot, indigo
nude in pearls
for once go taste your own strong salt
go touch the crowded tongues of mustard
go kiss the cormorant bones
but don't hold me; my hands can't offer help
Go find a frame where I am not the only thing
in which you see yourself

you wrap yourself up in that nice brown bag
You squint into that amber spyglass, and you spot steadier land
where I see stars above the softest marsh's mud
If you can stand there you'll be proud, but if you can't
what passing hand will pull you up?

Underneath the sacks of seed and bags of sallow hay
up comes the cattail reed
Up comes the bottom of the bay
Go sew your broken teeth between the rows of overwatered wheat
A mouth may grow, though the field lays fallow.

what billows at your front porch now?
If that's your white shirt on the fishing wire
I will not cut it down
I won't hold you - I cannot keep you still
The wind's been chewing and the sun's slight ribs
and now it's getting at you, too.



I Did Not Speak It


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BOOKING: Native Cat Recordings [email]SYNC/LICENSING: Native Cat Recordings [email]PUBLICITY: Michelle King at Noisy Ghost PR: [email]

BOOKING: Native Cat Recordings
SYNC/LICENSING: Native Cat Recordings
PUBLICITY: Michelle King at Noisy Ghost PR:
BOOKING: Native Cat Recordings
SYNC/LICENSING: Native Cat Recordings
PUBLICITY: Michelle King at Noisy Ghost PR: