Caley Conway

Friday | 9-10:15pm
The Main

“Like Drops In My Mouth, I’ll Take It,” Caley Conway declares on “Path of the Sun,” singing of life’s vicissitudes, taking in a heady moment, reducing, then reconstructing it into a lyrical pearl, as she is so wont to do with the most perplexing situations. Her warm, honeyed voice expressively flutters, then thuds pragmatically across pages of scrawled, hazy daydreams and anxiety borne nightmares. Conway ultimately and consistently turns in earnest, woebegone and playful work without a raised eyebrow in return - this sort of span of emotion is plain old magnetic in its humanity and has become her calling card. “Conway’s music is relatable to a wide audience beyond the Roots world…[her] vocal work goes above and beyond the call of duty,” praises No Depression Magazine, underlining that magnetism and admiring her unique finesse.

Although raised in the Midwest in Wisconsin, Conway got her songwriting start in more alluring places like Hawaii, New Zealand and India after dropping out of art school in the Midwest. In her wanderings, her ukulele became her constant companion and a device to connect with others wherever she went, seeking answers to the universal puzzlement of those sentient Salad Days. Now, mainly on electric guitar, Conway still uses songwriting as a function to connect and a way to communicate where she’s at, so to speak.

In subsequent years, her sound grew; splashes of jazz soaked into the groundwork of folk and post-rock built the framework that lifted Conway into recognition. Influenced by repeat listens of Aimee Mann, Cat Stevens, Willie Nelson and David Bowie (and later, Aldous Harding and Sharon Van Etten), Conway dove in and experimented away inside her self-realized structure. Anchored by inner child, her deep emotional ponderings sway gently in playful waves of whimsy. Experiments with warm choral harmonies, deft guitar solos and detailed storytelling seal a “Joni Mitchell meets early St. Vincent” vibe (as she self-describes her now-hallmark sound). Having shaken off the confines of a set life path of schooling, Conway was stretching her legs, blossoming as she stepped confidently into a new, creative pathway: writing, producing, engineering and directing, and Conway’s most-recent EP, Bliss or Bust is the ultimate representation of this growth.

Working remotely with Nashville-based co-producer and longtime friend James Paul Mitchell, Bliss or Bust expands Conway’s sound imaginatively with added instrumentation under Mitchell’s guidance. Living an existence enveloped in the rare hold of a global pandemic - to be so alone with one’s thoughts and one’s own body and personal space - the minutiae start to pile up and make layers that become a bit blinding. “It's just that I love you so much that I don't want to see you / you might make me giggle and laugh / giggle and laugh again,” Conways sings from the depths of her bubble, deciding, “later on I'll get around to that I have a lifetime yet.” In coming to grips with this new existence, and as a means to stay engaged, Conway created a

trilogy of dream-like music videos to match each song on Bliss or Bust, strengthening her sync-up with the universal heartbeat of her audience.

Conway hints at a percolating LP, and leads us to her places of current creative growth, having recently released two covers - “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens and “Help Me” by Joni Mitchell - both recorded in a spare bedroom in Milwaukee. And her forthcoming

adaptation EP, Only a Dark Cocoon, was breathed into existence over the past two years. “I really enjoy doing covers because it gives me an outlet for riff ideas that I couldn’t make coincide with lyrics of my own,” she admits. “Sometimes I feel more entitled to taking creative liberties with songs that aren’t mine, and it’s a good way to experiment with recording and mixing, and kill perfectionism a little bit.” Again, Conway takes steps towards a sage existence as a creative and a human continuing down the road less taken, just as she likes it.