Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Allen
We went into this session with Korean Is Asian almost blindly. It just so happened that earlier, a day before, we found out that they existed. We were standing outside John Prine's Butcher Shoppe, his recording studio that coincidentally used to be a meatpacking plant decades ago, in a mostly dirt parking area that was all muddy and littered with tiny clumps of grass and piles of dog shit. Justin Townes Earle and band had just arrived with their manager and they told us that we really needed to listen to Caitlin Rose and Korean Is Asian while we were in town, and see if we could fit them in for tapings. We were bowled over by both and the following day, all four of them arrived together and these songs were taped. Korean Is Asian is made up , primarily, of Jordan and Alex Caress and Brian Ritchey, and to make the story even more serendipitous, the morning that we woke up and began heading to the studio to tape this band amongst others, we stopped off at a dinky little coffeehouse and bumped into Townes Earle there - doing the same thing that we were, for cognition purposes. He chatted up the girl behind the counter, as a familiar face and acquaintance, and we left, only to see, hours later, that same coffeehouse face bringing in instruments. Jordan Caress still does work at that coffeehouse in Nashville, but she shouldn't have to. I'm not sure what her brother or Ritchey do for gainful employment, but they shouldn't have to do those jobs either. Korean Is Asian will make your mouth go cotton. They will stun you hard. It is their way of courting, but it's so easy to give in to their advances. They sing with tanned harmonies and the kind of unfakeable effortless that is nothing like the new Nashville, but oh so very akin to what the old Nashville sound was rooted in. It's mountain music for lovers who believe in the deliverance of love. They believe in the holy pain and the holy gospel of love, but mostly it's the pain that they let shape the good word of the feeling. They sing of loneliness as if it lives longing and they sing of dark clouds that feel immovable, but more so, they way they sing about them is hardly depressing, but as if we were lucky to be amongst them. They generate feelings like the ones expressed in Faith Matheny's self-eulogy in Edgar Lee Masters' "Spoon River Analogy," speaking from beyond the grave, this advice, "At first you will know not what they mean, and you may never know, and we may never tell you: These sudden flashes in your soul, like lambent lightning on snowy clouds at midnight when the moon is full. They come in solitude, or perhaps you sit with your friend, and all at once a silence falls on speech, and his eyes without a flicker glow at you. You two have seen the secret together. He sees it in you, and you in him. And there you sit thrilling lest the Mystery stand before you and strike you dead with a splendor like the sun's. Be brave, all souls who have such visions! As your body's alive as mine is dead. You're catching a little whiff of the ether reserved for God Himself." Korean Is Asian is all visions - these visions.