Bones Will Last
Artist: Kathryn Claire
Produced by: Kathryn Claire
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Portland, Oregon-based Kathryn Claire is a multi-talented artist. Trained in classical and traditional music, Claire is a violinist, guitarist, singer and songwriter that combines both styles to create a sound that is considered chamber-folk. She has toured extensively in the United States, Japan, India, Holland, Belgium and France. On March 24, 2017, Kathryn Claire released her fourth album, Bones Will Last.
For this album, Claire decided to mix instrumental and lyrical compositions: “When I decided to put instrumentals and lyrical songs on the album, I knew finding a cohesive sound could be problematic…That interweaving was so profound. I have played violin on many albums, and have worked as a side person with incredible performers. Each artist and genre I worked in taught me something. One of the most important gifts I learned as a side person was how to listen. When I made this album, I applied that gift to myself. I wanted to capture what I heard in my head with the violin. I went deep within myself to find those melodic or lyrical lines that I kept hearing.” Working with Zak Borden on mandolin, Allen Hunter on upright bass and Don Henson on piano, Kathryn Claire managed to create a sound that is incredibly captivating.
From the very first track, Syringa / The Hallowed Halls, I was hooked. The music has a definite Celtic style to it and I loved how the violin and mandolin are joined by the upright bass, with the tempo picking up as the instrumental track moves forward. The next track, Bones Will Last, features vocals by Kathryn Claire that are reminiscent of Natalie Merchant, soothing and hypnotic. The lyrics speak to the fleeting moments of life and what we leave behind. The line, “Fear the flood, the rush of blood, we’ll be gone, but our bones will last” is quite profound. Sure, when we die and decay, the bones are what remain, but the bones can also mean the lasting memories and influences on others that remain after we are gone. This is followed by Fugue, another instrumental track that has a somewhat celebratory tone.
Sweet Chariot is another song about death, in which she discusses what she would want her last moments to be like. When that chariot comes to take her away from this world, she will finally be able to let go of all that has stressed her or been sorrowful in her life and relish in the simplistic beauty of a sole bared of all responsibility and constraint. The mandolin and piano play very strong roles in this song, adding to the beauty of the lyrics. Next is another instrumental track called It Was Your Voice, a somewhat sadder track, perhaps depicting a memory of a loved one and what made them so beloved. Last Day is has an edgy style to it. It sounds to me that in this song, the singer is saying goodbye to a relationship that has gone sour.
Never Be is a somewhat sad track about a relationship that is dying…the singer has been holding on to something that was destined to crumble. This is followed by The Forest Flower, an up-tempo instrumental track that begins with mandolin, soon joined by upright bass, and again by violin, until all are harmoniously celebrating life. The last lyrical track on the album happens to be my favorite. In Thaw, we see how love can heal a lost soul: “It was cold inside / Could not find the light / Close my eyes tight / Hold my breath…I turned a corner / Lights were warmer warmer / White walls gleaming / Your eyes beaming / I was frozen on a path I had chosen / In your eyes I saw / I was beginning to thaw.” Beautiful imagery in this love song. The album wraps up with Bjourne Stompe, a fun way to end the album.
Bones Will Last was incredibly captivating listen with insightful lyrics and some amazing instrumentals. I had never heard of Kathryn Claire prior to receiving this album for review, now I can’t get enough. I can’t wait to hear more from this amazing artist.