Chris Pureka is an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter based in Portland, Oregon. Her elegant emotionality as a vocalist and her flair as a lyricist have garnered her favorable comparisons to Chan Marshall, Bruce Springsteen, and Patty Griffin. Over many years of touring on both sides of the Atlantic, she has shared the stage with such diverse and esteemed artists as The Lumineers, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Cowboy Junkies, Haley Heynderickx, and Ani DiFranco. She has had her songs featured on such television shows as Brothers and Sisters and Shameless, as well as a song featured in the Sundance featured indie film, The Royal Road. The Longest Year is Pureka’s 8th release.
The Longest Year was written and recorded during the last 2 years of pandemic life and touches on themes of hope and acceptance. Despite the pandemic backdrop, the album emits an overall aura of warmth and gentle hopefulness. While Pureka has always been known for a heart-on-sleeve candidness, there is a deeper vulnerable quality to these songs, as well as a more stripped down intimate production, that harkens back to the songwriter’s earliest material.
The songs were partly recorded in the studio and partly recorded at home, giving it both some grit and some polish: a hybrid sound that adds to the album's intimacy. Due to the isolation and lack of travel during 2020/21, Pureka played many of the instruments herself, bringing in some local Portland musicians to fill out the sound.
The title track, “The Longest Year”, is an anthem for these difficult times. With its 3-part harmonies and simple guitar and upright bass arrangement it could almost be a re-imagining of Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More”. The chorus comes in with the message that many of us need right now “All, I know is we are enough, so keep on and keep your head up”.
The title track leads on into the train beat of the second track, the single on the album, the lush but delicate, “Sky Spinning”. “Sky Spinning” shines with intimate vocals and lyrics about the complexity of relationships – how one’s own best interests and the interests of a relationship might diverge over time. “I don’t know how to save us, I just know how to save me.” New arrangements of the classic cover songs, “Helpless” (Neil Young) and “What a Wonderful World” add a scope and timelessness to the album.