SOME ARTISTS — especially singer/songwriters, who are often far too deep into their own material to maintain anything remotely resembling objectivity about its merits or how it might come across to the general public — usually fall into two distinct camps: those who cannot stand the thought of categorizing their own output and those who love nothing more than to tell you in excruciating detail exactly what it is about their music they believe sets them apart from everyone else.
Baltimore-born (and now Atlanta-based) tunesmith and guitarist Ronnda Cadle straddles that line by deftly sidestepping the question — while simultaneously offering a telling answer that gives voice to the pride she takes in her work.
“I just call it good music,” she says when queried about her particular approach to crafting dreamy, instrumental interludes based around her own beautiful (and beautifully precise) acoustic guitar work.
“It’s relaxing, but it’s not New Age, she continues. “It’s classical, but not strictly classical, for the purists. It’s folk, yet it’s informed by classic rock. It’s a little bit of everything, and it has enough room to take the listener on a journey.”
“I’m along for the ride, too, because I’m constantly amazed at the places it can go,” she adds.
“(For me) Creating music is a soul-satisfying trip that never ends.”
It would seem that a growing number of listeners who are made aware of Cadle’s compositions through her live shows and recorded work are also gaining some measure of “soul-satisfaction.” She recently celebrated the release of her second album, After, at noted Atlanta listening room Eddie’s Attic in Decatur (an internationally-known showcase venue which has nurtured the careers of countless acoustic artists), and after some time in the trenches is beginning to receive a steady stream of almost gushing acclaim from fans and peers, as well as respected members of the music industry.
“Ronnda is an amazing technician on the guitar,” says songwriters Sue Ennis, who’s worked with Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson.
“She coaxes a full-voiced sound out of the instrument and the result is a confident, clear tone. She’s a melodic, hooky writer. Her songs stay with me for days.”
Noted music journalist Lee Valentine Smith, writing in Atlanta’s Creative Loafing, called Cadle’s work, “the soundtrack to a million dreams at once. A cinematic treat.”
After playing for more than a decade in a number of bands and combos around Atlanta (and even more in her previous hometown of Columbus, Oh.), Cadle has only just been able to quit her day job and try her hand at writing, recording and playing music full-time. She says that it’s been something of a hard row to hoe playing wordless music in venues known primarily for lyric-based songwriting.
She has even dedicated her new album to the memory of her dear friend and mentor Joyce Tree, whom she describes as her “guardian angel.” Cadle says it was Tree who gave her the courage to persevere.
“With all the struggles I’ve had in being a purely instrumental artist who plays the singer/songwriter circuit, and (constantly) hearing ‘you need to sing,’ she was the one who told me that I was singing, with my guitar, and that she heard it.”
Nashville-based touring songwriter Moe Loughran —an avowed Cadle fan— echoes those sentiments.
“Ronnda plays like a singer. It’s not all about the chops and licks — although there are plenty. It’s about the emotion of the chords chosen and the melody placed over those chords. Dark and melancholy, rich with texture, like a voice.”
That “voice” is aided ably by her backing band The String Poets, made up of longtime Atlanta musicians Carol Statella (viola), Sherry Iles (bass) and Jordan Marshall (percussion), who’ll be on hand to support Cadle during her three Savannah gigs this weekend.
Ronnda Cadle & The String Poets appear Friday at 7:30 pm at the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church (as part of the Savannah Folk Music Society’s 1st Friday for Folk Music). Admission is free, with a suggested $2 donation to the SFMS. Saturday at 8 pm, they perform at The Sentient Bean Coffeehouse. Admission is $4. The next morning, they’ll be at the Universal Unitarian Church of Savannah on Troup Square. All shows are open to ALL-AGES. For more info, visit: www.myspace.com/ronndacadle.