It takes something miraculously good for a local release to stand out in a musically saturated town like Portland—something like the rumbling, moody "Kiss You," a gothic rocker with clanging guitars, vocals coiled tightly with sex, and a menacing, murderous chomp.
Or something like "I Want You to Come Home Now," a flurry of trilling acoustic guitars, mariachi horns, supple walking upright bass, and massed choral vocals. Or any of the other tracks on the fantastic Sow to Sow, the new collaborative EP from Deluxe's Katrina Skalland and Portland-based trio Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives. It's a record whose generosity and spirit oozes out of its consistently excellent tunes, a record whose graceful beauty grows upon repeat listens. It's a record you need to hear.
Grow first met Skalland a few years back when Careen, Grow's band at the time, played in Sacramento, and Skalland and her bandmates came to the show. "We just hit it off," says Grow. "We ended up crashing at their house, and then she and I stayed up all night and played each other songs in the kitchen on acoustic guitar. It just clicked somehow." The two stayed friends and mutual admirers through the years, until "we got to that point in our relationship where we should make a record together."
Sow to Sow was recorded in Grow's basement, with drummer Jeremiah Hayden recording his parts during his lunch breaks. The songs inhabit a roomy, inviting place in between folk, indie, ambient, Americana, and rock, such as Skalland's "Easter Hill," which languidly sketches a noir landscape, or Grow's optimistic and careful "Double Sure," whose buzzing slide guitar finds common ground between Tom Waits' bleakness and George Harrison's vibrancy.
The title of Sow to Sow draws the parallel between music and Skalland's hobby of gardening. "I think that you should play music for the moment," says Skalland, who moved to Portland a few months ago. "You can't expect anything out of it; you just have to be in the moment and make something energetic and unique happen. So it means you sow to sow, not sow to reap."