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Sera Cahoone Gives a Slow-Moving Pep Talk

Sera Cahoone has been playing warm, easygoing, country-tinged roots music ever since shedding her role as Band of Horses' drummer a few years ago. In that time, she's come to suit a specific mood to perfection: With titles such as "You're Lookin' Tired," "Couch Song," and "I'm on Your Side," Cahoone's songs are about comforting the weary — acknowledging exhaustion while offering reassurance.

"You're Not Broken," a sweetly shuffling ballad from Cahoone's fine sophomore album (Only as the Day Is Long), sounds like the product of a lot of time spent listening to someone complain about aches and pains. There's no bitterness or judgment in the way she acknowledges "your tired arms and your tired hands," and the title hints at a tone somewhere between gentle encouragement and an attempt to motivate someone she knows can do better.

As if Cahoone's voice didn't possess enough healing properties on its own, she closes "You're Not Broken" with an almost comically pleasing two-minute coda. That closing wash of instrumental comfort food — strings, acoustic guitars, a bit of gentle slide guitar — provides the sonic equivalent of a foot-rub at the end of a long day. What could be better?

Sera Cahoone will perform at this week's South by Southwest music festival. To read more of NPR Music's SXSW coverage, click here.

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)