The groundwork for Steven Sedalia’s forthcoming studio album, “Mauna,” was constructed three years ago when he arrived on Kauai.
The natural landscape of the island was Sedalia’s inspiration for his eclectic mixture of musical storyboards that mixes moods of adventure, romance, wonder, the joy of abundance, and exploration of love in an album that combines folk, rock and island roots.
Sedalia has composed 60-plus songs since arriving in the islands in 2016, and that effort became the precursor of his debut full-length album slated for a Wednesday, Oct. 2 digital and physical worldwide release.
“When I first came back to the islands I concentrated on my resources, and learning how to live a sustainable way, and I was able to produce and record more music,” Sedalia said, “the time I had invested in what I was doing when I first came to the island.”
By fusing a mixture of musical stylizations together and, finding his niche, Sedalia said “Mauna” and his musical blend were well-received by the Kauai artistic community.
“The reception was amazing. I just did an album release show for this album a few days ago and the response was incredible,” Sedalia said. “My expression has deepened, and these islands make me feel so alive, and I have so much expression, emotions, desires and feelings.”
The album’s title, “Mauna,” means “mountain” in Hawaiian, and “silence” in Sanskrit, and fittingly was written and recorded on the North Shore of Kauai, with producer Andrew Vastola, owner of Mauka View Recording Studio, in Princeville.
The result of his collaboration with Vastola resulted in Sedalia’s exponential growth from his first offering, an EP titled “Words of the River,” an album designed to get Sedalia touring, and his name out there with other touring musicians and promoters.
Being raised in the mountains of North Carolina instilled in Sedalia a deep reverence for the land that is emergent in his songs. He lived for years on an organic fruits and vegetables farm on Kauai.
“I have always loved writing, but it wasn’t until my late teenage years that I discovered my profound love for songwriting,” he said. “However, I was afraid of sharing my words, and deathly afraid to sing in front of anyone, but I felt so called to share the songs that I knew I had to learn how to overcome the fear. So I began to perform social stunts to intentionally embarrass myself in public, like howling in busy street sidewalks, or facing the opposite way in an elevator, or breaking out in chaotic dance in busy college halls, all to teach my body how to stay calm in front of an audience.”
Not only did these self-therapy techniques encourage Sedalia’s calmness in front of crowds, but they changed his entire life.
“I now believe the ultimate tool to release anxiety, and what the final straw for me was, and continues to be, is to express myself in the most vulnerable way possible,” he said. “When my heart’s truth is sung and shared with the world, this action creates alignment, and tension dissolves.”
A labor of love
Sedalia wants to create an album that is utilized as a coping mechanism for vast rigors and demands placed on us by our society, which he says is the breeding ground for anxiety and mental health problems.
“It’s reflective of my experience and that we take as human beings, and we all share experiences, similar feelings and lessons,” Sedalia said. “Those feelings are of love, truth, that come from deep despair, hope, bliss, ecstasy, devotion and pure love.”
The new collection of songs, which spread across a diverse scenery, opening with a haku mele (original composition written in the Hawaiian language) in “Polikua,” to a blues-roots-earth anthem in “Children of the Land,” a banjo foot stomper in “Mountain Woman,” wispy flutes in between layered vocal harmonies in “Listen,” some Sanskrit chanting in “Amaya,” and a love song reminiscent of Rumi’s poetry in the closing track “In Your Love.”
The melting pot of musical influence on Sedalia’s “Mauna” album reflects the beauty of the islands, he said.
“The island loves to be sung to, and it shelters us, and we give her songs,” Sedalia said.
Jason Blasco, staff writer, can be reached at 652-2229.