Maine singer-songwriter Karen Kendrick releases her first full-length solo album of all original music, entitled, “Seeker”. Kendrick, a lifelong Mainer who grew up in Hollis, used the pandemic shutdown of 2020 as an opportunity to write and record the ten tracks and enlisted a wide variety of southern and mid-coast Maine musicians to help with the process. The album was mixed by Ryan Ordway, at The Studio, and mastered by Pat Keane Mastering, both in downtown Portland. Kendrick traveled the highways and bac kroads of northern New England throughout the 1990s and early 2000s as a singer in various cover bands (Keyo, True Colour, Cinnamon, LA Harley Band) and also wrote and sang commercial jingles for a while.
Kendrick married fellow musician Tim Wilson and they had a daughter in the early 2000s, so the music took a backseat to the realities of family life, but everything changed suddenly when Wilson passed away in 2014. “Tim died by suicide and there are no words to describe how difficult it has been since he left us. But my daughter and I are here today on the other side of tragedy and we both are looking to our future feeling hopeful. We are blessed,” states Kendrick.
Karen Kendrick enlisted the help of veteran Maine musician Chris Muccino (Liquid Daydream, Endless Interstate, Forest City & Friends) to bring the project to life. Besides the organizational and technical chores, Chris also co-wrote two songs on the album. Local music vet Jerry Perron of Topsham was key was key in collecting all of the tracks from the home studios of every musician that contributed and assembling the rough mixes, before the project moved to the mixing and mastering stages.
Right from the rousing opening cut, “Don’t Cry”, Karen Kendrick arms her exceptional voice: a husky, smoky lilt with a sharp knowingness and a deadly tone. Through crescendos of screaming guitars, Kendrick’s majestic voice rises through the melodic bombast with comfortable ease. Unlike many pandemic music projects, there are no filler tracks or wasted space on this album. Each song stands on its own stylistically. Such is the case with the high octane mid-tempo track, “You Don’t Know”, which is yet another sharply arranged and performed piece of work.
A triumphant patchwork of Americana flavors, “Retrograde” is yet another show-stopping centerpiece, which leads directly to “Whirlwind”, where the rhythm and drumbeat cycles around and around while Kendrick unfolds her narrative with a voice that resonates through to the soul. “Silver Linings” is full of difficult, emotional lyrics, as it gives full space for the beautiful melody and strong singing to be effective. The songwriting is so good throughout, and the production is spot-on.
Kendrick and her crew know when to let a track stay sparse and put the lyrics and vocals in the center and when to expand the ensemble and emphasize the music. They brilliantly do a bit of both on the eloquent “When”. Backed almost exclusively by an acoustic guitar and percussion, it takes only seconds into “Full Circle” for the brilliance of writing and the power of performance that Karen Kendrick boasts to be self-evident. Repeatedly her music delivers moments where your soul is stirred. It’s a reminder of just how spectacular her solo stuff can be.
Throughout the record, what’s perhaps most striking is how Karen Kendrick continues to find new contours, richer textures, and deeper nuances. All of which comes to bear on the fleshed-out “Stars & Headlights” and the slow-burn of the piano driven “Purple Halo”. On the latter, Kendrick’s singing is top-notch, ranging from delicate to soaring, and always sounding gorgeous. The album closes with “Round & Round”, built on a simple guitar strum and Kendrick’s crystal clear voice.
“Seeker” is a strong, inspired, challenging, propulsive, and ultimately, convincing 10-track argument for Karen Kendrick to step out into the limelight. The physical CD will be available on April 15th at all Bull Moose stores throughout Maine and NH, with online fulfillment through www.bullmoose.com. The digital version will be available in May 2022 on all of the popular streaming sites like Amazon, Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify and many others.