COTY HOGUE: FLIGHT
EVERY WINTER, flocks of yellowthroat warblers are pulled south, feathers beaten by the winds of instinct, beaks opened in songs of self-discovery. In Pacific Northwest songwriter COTY HOGUE’s new album, FLIGHT, released May 26th, there’s a similar impulse; a delicious affinity for transcendence through movement, understanding through the oneness of nature. This affinity took her on a remarkable cross-country bicycle trip, during which Hogue pedaled 4000 miles between her home in Bellingham, WA to the American South. She brings forth Flight as the fruits of that labor– as her physical and psychological search for answers. Recorded in Nashville, TN at Rec Room Studio, Flight also highlights the often-made pilgrimage between more rural outposts and Nashville, the nest of American roots music. Some of the best acoustic musicians, like guitarists MOLLY TUTTLE and bass player MISSY RAINES, fiddler KAT BULA, and mandolinist JOHN MAILANDER, finalize Flight into a beautifully articulate album of truths that mixes tinges of Northwest melancholy with Appalachian balladry.
The song “Run”, starts off this album, marking the beginning of this journey with a realization. As Hogue says, “It was the first original song I wrote on this album and when I listen to it, it puts me right back in the situation I was in at that moment… it was about being given a choice and thinking you knew exactly what you were doing but then realizing that you aren’t actually okay [with the result.]” This first track highlights the deft fiddling and string arrangement from Kat Bula, as well as the way Hogue’s songwriting embodies momentum. It’s “Redtail”, though, with its personal lyrics and driving guitar and banjo lines, that is the beating heart of the project. The song itself is about one particular moment on Hogue’s ride when a hawk flew along beside her and she felt herself become one with nature. “That was a distinct moment on my trip where I finally felt like I was really connected with my bike, the road, and the environment around me,” Hogue says. Covers like Lucinda William’s “Are You Down” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” further that connection, underscoring how a woman’s ties to the past influence the direction of her future. As Hogue says, “The covers I chose were very intentional. They are part of this story of Flight, which to me represents the last couple of years of thinking where I want to go and how I want to shape my life.”
Hogue’s voice is as pure as her vision, as strong as her melodies. And yet, she admits that it sometimes feels more like work than play, as it is seated in a compulsion to express her life, to take her struggles and derive their lessons. “I start songwriting with a feeling or an experience that I know I need to express somehow,” Hogue says. In the end, atop Flight’s turbulent gusts of introspection, Hogue is delivered home, just as the warblers touch down in a warmer hemisphere. As she says, “Flight as a title I think honored my bird theme but also eludes to the larger picture of the album. And that is one of evolution, of finding yourself, through a journey.”