There’s No Better Time to Listen to Kacey Johansing’s Soothing New Album


LA-based indie pop singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kacey Johansing’s latest album No Better Time is mellow and soothing, a much-needed mood at the moment. Even though the songs weren’t written about the current state of the world, many of the lyrics read as words of comfort in uncertain times. “Let’s fall backwards/I need not know what comes after,” she softly sings in the delicate, calm “Fall Backwards.”

The record also includes a number of love songs, both happy — e.g. the airy, floaty opener “Make Love” — and solemn, e.g. the wistful “I Try,” a single about “feeling like you’ve tried everything to make relationships work, or to feel like you belong in a relationship, and that it’s not so straightforward for everyone based on their upbringing or past experiences,” she explains. In the video, she wanders through flowery fields, conveying a sense of “waking up from a dream and seeing something you don’t have anymore.”

The jazzy, romantic “All of Me,” another single off the album, is about overcoming issues with body image and self-esteem; it was written during a moment when Johansing was feeling insecure. “I give you my heart and my soul/and only feel big boned/Cuz they don’t make it in my size/I have no disguise,” she sings candidly. In a dream-like video incorporating holographic visuals, she looks into shimmery mirrors out in the mountains, on the beach, and amid fluorescent flowers.

“It felt cathartic working through a low point and writing an anthem about loving myself and loving and accepting my body wherever it’s at,” she says. “[When people listen to it, I hope] that they feel less alone or that they can practice self-love too. Or even, if it’s in a moment of feeling shitty about themselves, they just know they’re not the only ones and we just can pause and give ourselves a break.”

“Even a Lot Feels Like Nothing,” a simple but emotive piano-driven song that Johansing considers her favorite track on the LP, also deals with self-acceptance, as well as asking another to accept oneself. “[It’s about] asking whoever you’re with for patience as you figure it out — maybe you’ve been hurt before, your heart’s closed up, but you don’t want to give up on love,” she explains.

“I tend to really love the songs I write on piano, which I don’t write many on,” she adds. “I guess it just taps into my musical theater roots or something, and I love the string arrangements on it. I just love the arrangement all around. It feels like kind of a classic song. I worked really hard on it — its a song that took me a long time to finish, so it’s meaningful to me.” 

The title No Better Time is meant to be ironic but also true, referencing the album’s release in the middle of a pandemic. “We need more music and beauty and art in our lives, even though it’s not ideal,” she says. The title track has almost an oldies vibe to it, with a cheery tune but serious lyrics about drawing boundaries within toxic relationships.

The album was recorded live in the studio with a number of instruments — among them electric and acoustic guitars, synthesizer, cello, viola, violin, flute, piano, drums bass, and even sleigh bells — and produced by Johansing and multi-instrumentalist Tim Ramsey (Vetiver, Fruit Bats) without much editing other than mixing it and layering some overdubs.

“I just wanted it to be really true to myself where I was at that time musically and with the musicians that I was collaborating with,” says Johansing, who played the guitar, piano, and synthesizer herself. “I just wanted it to feel authentic and pure and lush.”

No Better Time is Johansing’s fourth album, following 2017’s The Hiding. It utilized a different band than her past work, but she still considers it “very me,” she explains. “I always am drawn to similar ways of arranging and similar instruments.” She’s written a number of new songs recently that she hopes to record in the winter.

Johansing also runs a record label, Nightbloom Records, with her friends Jeff Manson and Alex Bleeker, representing such artists as Suzanne Vallie and Mariee Sioux. “That’s a really nice way for me to stay engaged with the musical community during COVID times,” she says.

She considers her music a way to explore questions like how to love when one’s past is full of pain, though she has by no means arrived at an answer. “The album isn’t ‘I figured it out,'” she says, “but it was part of the journey toward figuring it out.”

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