Under Review

Ora Cogan

The Quarry

Isolated Now Waves/Borne! Recordings

Review By Justin Langille


Time apart from reality is hard to come by.

However, if you manage, separating one’s self from the rush of worldwide goings on can yield some truly revelatory perspective. On her latest album, The Quarry, Vancouver singer-songwriter Ora Cogan finds autonomy and uses it to project moments of her life into sonic fantasy.

Over the course of 13 tracks, Cogan combines the inherent blues of her brooding vocal range with evocative lyrical imagery, creating a storybook of song to travel through. This signature style of Cogan’s is employed to great effect on the ebbing devotional “Glass Tower” and standout title track “The Quarry.” Accompanied by the hypnotic finger-picking of her acoustic guitar, Cogan’s reverb-veiled voice guides us to a place in her landscape culled from a fond, yet seemingly dark memory. Sewn with careful composition and coloured by dissonant twang, “The Quarry” is only the midway point through this excursion.

The rest of the album finds Cogan chasing oppression out with beautiful blue notes in “Blood Debt.” We find her escaping with another by moonlight with “In the Dark,” and in “Gather,” Cogan tells us of loss and longing with the help of her melancholy strings.

Cogan’s simple but sublime songwriting is enough to make this record brilliant, but the sparse, lo-fi production (courtesy of Cogan and Jesse Taylor) brings it an eerie and cohesive aesthetic that sets it apart from less considered contemporary folk variations and neo-blues iterations.

At its very best, music is an explorative expression, a highly cathartic and transcendental experience that drives artists outside of themselves and inspires those around them to see the world differently.

While a great deal of independent, experimental music coming out of Western Canada right now could be described in these terms, The Quarry exemplifies this often forsaken purpose of music and gifts us with a looking glass to witness Cogan’s world through.