After several years of gloom and chaos, I sorely needed to listen to Kate Fenner’s beautiful, mournful and yet somehow deeply hopeful voice.
She spins her exquisite stories of loss and love and the upside-down nature of life with a poet’s grace, her soul utterly untethered. What a voice. Both gentle and raspy, she softly rips your heart out while you sit wistfully pondering every line she gives.
There’s a gossamer threaded lifeline to Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and a knowing nod to Norah Jones and Julie Cruise. But Kate Fenner really is solely in her own particular place in the universe of song.
She is both impossibly cool and intentionally folksy, a tough line to walk. But all these gorgeous arrangements, spacious and moody and effortless allow this haunting and just the tiniest bit punk torch-songstress ample time and opportunity to woo us.
The songs are also tremendous. Truly, and epically good. How have I never heard her music before? Indeed, where on earth has she been all my life? A musician since the 80s, Kate Fenner is the real deal and her catalog and cohorts prove it. On this record alone she has some of the best musicians in the world.
“Dead Reckoning” is an album written from the depths of Kate Fenner’s broken heart. She lost friends and loved ones in the past few years. We all have, but Kate’s gift is to sing and so she does, and as you listen to her words, she melts the ice we have put all around ourselves lately. Ice to freeze out the staggering depths of the brutal communal loss we have all suffered. This album is really more of a prayer than anything. An attempt to mark the passing of people and history and time.
The human voice can be a healing thing and Kate Fenner’s voice feels like the angels are singing the many to their rest and helping us heal a little too.
Strangely enough though, these songs are not sad. They are uplifting and poignant, full of beautiful phrases and truthful to the last. My absolute favorite, although it’s very hard to choose, is “My River,” the first track on the album, with the incredible Jason Moran on piano. Kate sings “My rivers going back to the ocean, no more bruising on the shore. The soul’s procession set in motion, yearning at its core. Fragile river picking through stones. Water under-water, undertow.”
It’s a gift…and one I will take, gratefully. Love love love this incredible album.
You can listen to Kate Fenner’s “My River” https://fb.watch/hXtR2lu4s6/ as well as Spotify.
Artist Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Produced and Arranged by Scotty Hard
Recorded and mixed at Duro of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY
Assisted by Nathan Diesendruck and Tybalt Mooney, except “My River”, “Cautionary Tale” and
“Firefly” recorded at Brooklyn Recording by Richard Salino, assisted by Andy Taub, and ”Ghost
Moon” recorded by Hugh Christopher Brown at The Post Office, Wolfe Island, Ontario.
Cover painting by Kaari Upson
Photographs by Jody Kivort
Stéphane San Juan—drums and percussion
Connor Schultze—electric and upright bass
Mark Spencer—guitar, pedal steel guitar, piano, Wurlitzer, organ, Mellotron
Tony Scherr—bass on 1, 7; acoustic guitar on 7; electric guitar on 4, 7, 9
Jason Moran—piano on 1
Scott Harding—electric guitar on 3, 5, 8, 9, Mellotron 2, 9, Moog on 5, string arrangement 1, 10
Chris Brown—organ on 5, strings, wurlitzer and additional production on 4
Lucien Clough—intro and outro piano on 10, guitar on 4
Agustin Uriburu—cello on 1, 7, 10; acoustic guitar on 2
Tomoko Omura—violin, viola on 1
Kate—singing, acoustic guitar on 3, 6, 8