red steppes’ debut A Mouth May Grow was rooted firmly in the topography of California; her sophomore release Arcs (Native Cat Recordings) is the fruit of a series of displacements, disturbances, and reorientations. Stylistically diverse, the album delivers minimalist guitar pop, mathy folk, and even a Peter Gabriel-tinged meditation on loss, finding equilibrium in songwriter Nika Aila States’ intimate vocals. Arcs is plush with the kind of photographic lyricism States began exploring with A Mouth May Grow; songs fondly addressed to lovers are mindful of an inevitable transience, lullabies keep account both of the world’s smallest gestures and its great ruins, and a series of scenes unfold as a prayer of sustenance, a knowing salutation aimed at fellow travelers and sailors-by-the-wind.
red steppes has released a live performance of “Madera” that’s included on Arcs. The deeply moving set is performed around the picturesque backdrop of an open concept home that sits perfectly along the cascading waters at Big Sur. States vocals are hauntingly present and utterly captivating.