So Far So Good, the second album from Meernaa, finds Carly Bond building a layered world while processing loss, deciphering dreams, and learning to accept love. In fact, Bond’s mesmerizing guitar and vocals — along with the slinky contributions from her longtime collaborators Rob Shelton, Doug Stuart, and Andrew Maguire, plus a host of other musicians — present a tranquil, sublimely psychedelic experience that was made from scratch. “I wish I had more thorough intent going into a record,” she laughs. “I try to just write in the moment, and then whatever happens, happens. It’s always ever-evolving.”

Read more: 25 best albums of 2023 so far

Either way, it reflects a measured step forward for the Bay Area-bred songwriter. The simmering “On My Line” opens everything up, whereas “As Many Birds Flying” blooms into a lysergic trance as the record floats toward the soulful finale “Love Is Good.” It’s a stylish distillation of the Oakland scene that Bond began absorbing when she was barely 20, falling somewhere between rock, jazz, and R&B. If you lower your guard, the songs can take you out of your own space, into intense moments of calm that often only feel possible in the early stretches of morning or the small hours of night.

As its title suggests, So Far So Good is an ethos, but it travels further than the music — it’s a sign to take things as they come. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and change can happen on a dime, but optimism is always an option. Sometimes the best way forward is to move with the current — until it takes you somewhere new.

With it being four years from the debut record to now, what kind of things did you discover about yourself in that time?

I think I just learned a lot about writing and music and the business side of things and how much patience is required in every step of that — and finding peace and patience. Patience was a big one for me, especially with the pandemic and everything. You have no control over anything. All you can do is wait and see how things unfold.

A big part of the past four years has been being comfortable with being patient, but also revising things. When I write something, I’m like, “OK, it’s done. I’m moving on.” And with this record, I was really forced to have to sit with it in an uncomfortable way. I’m super stoked that it’s out, but it’s been through so many iterations in the past four years, which I never wanna do again. But I did learn a lot in that. Not trying to rush anything is really important and how many different versions of myself I’ve been in just the past four years and what that means for writing, too, has been really interesting to observe.

Rob Shelton

Another thing I wanted to touch on is your partnership with Rob and how much of the record focuses on the way you view love. What’s one of the greatest joys of being married to your own bandmate?

That’s a cool question. I think it just makes things so much easier. Like having a partner who understands the work you do, and there’s no question about, “Oh, I’m gonna be out late tonight, doing something.” Or, “I’m in the zone working on something.” There’s no confusion about that, which is really nice. Also, it’s great to save money. [Laughs.]

Is he the first person you show a new song to?

Not necessarily. He used to be. He’s helped me overcome my own insecurities, in a big way. I can be able to trust myself, which has been super sick. He’s also challenged me in a lot of ways, which is nice. Now I’ve mustered up the gumption to be able to push back when I feel like I need to.

What about the other people who appear on the album? I know there are quite a few. Were you all in the same room when you recorded these songs?

No, but everybody who played on the record are really, really good friends of mine, especially Doug and Andrew. They were collaborators on the last record and have been with me since the beginning. Most of the time, I would start the songs by myself, just guitar and voice, and then maybe Rob would add keys, and then we’d bring Doug and Andrew in to play drums and bass, and everything was a slow layering process. Not to say that we haven’t done that in the past, but with this one, I really wanted to start from the ground up instead of all at once.

What kind of stuff do you connect over with those guys?

When I work with other people, I like to just trust that they know what to do and they’re gonna add their own color to something, but I’ll generally go in and be like, “Hey, think of these references or these colors or whatever and go for that.” I call it shaking their jimmies out. They have to play all the things that they need to play or they think is gonna work before they finally get to that thing that is the spirit of the song.

The video for “As Many Birds Flying” is so grounded in location and movement. Do you have a relationship with nature, and does that influence your creative process at all?

Yeah, definitely big time. I’m real granola, as they say. I’m a little bit crusty when I’m not polished. I try to be crusty. [Laughs.] I’m a big backpacker, and I just don’t really like people very much, so I like to be outside as much as possible. I grew up in California and along the coast and really like to be in places that aren’t very populated and feel really inspired by those landscapes.

Tell me about those movements that you’re doing in the video — do you dance a lot?

Historically no, but I really wanted to get over myself and be more comfortable in my bod. And I just happened to meet some of my now very, very good friends who are both dancers and study dance. I talked to them about this idea, and at first, it started off with them helping me choreograph something, but it turned into a deep collaboration, and we slowly came up with that piece. I really wanted to be intentional with that music video and not have it be just a music video, but more of a dance piece.

What does the phrase “so far so good” mean to you? Are you an optimistic person?

Oh hell yeah. I’ve adopted the term “zen nihilist” ’cause I feel like, especially when I wrote that song, too, it was just the beginning of the pandemic, and I didn’t have any money, and I just moved to LA with Rob, and we had no plans. Again, back to patience. You have no control. All you can do is wait it out and see what happens. So far so good is such a funny phrase to me ’cause it’s like, “Well, you know, we’ll see if shit hits the fan. I don’t know, but right now, it’s chill.”