Monday, 31 May 2021

Album Track Review: All The Way Around The World - Katherine Dines

Katherine Dines is an award-winning children's songwriter from Colorado, USA. She performs as a solo artist and also with the Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Band. Katherine has been entertaining family audiences since 1993, and her songs have been recognised across the globe. She is certainly appreciated here in Australia, so much so, I included this particular song on one of our playlists to take on the road. It initially caught my attention because the music evoked memories of my first visit to Ireland, when I caught the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin all those years ago. Although this particular boat trip is more ambitious, and takes the listener "All The Way Around The World". 

The song is featured on the album Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta: Hits and contains three minutes of inspired magic, combining a wonderful country feel with some Celtic flourishes along the way. The track begins with a melodic flute every bit as catchy as Men at Work's "Down Under", before the arrival of the vocals which take centre stage.  Her voice is as clear as crystal, and dominates the track throughout.

The lyrics are cleverly structured, providing the required space for the artist to describe the various emotions 'this boat's going to carry'. These include 'harmony', 'happiness', 'love and peace' and finally 'hope and strength' which are carried 'all the way around the world.' The chorus further expands the musicality of the track with a lively fiddle and flute playing off each other with flair and zest. The drums really pick up the pace on the second chorus, before we are treated to a truly exquisite fiddle solo during the middle eight. 

The song finishes in fine style repeating the song title to further cement the idea, as what sounds like a  banjo gradually fades into the distance. Before the artist signs off, she has one final treat for the attentive listener including  a swirling mix of Celtic instruments and a haunting, soulful didgeridoo.

Katherine Dines is a talented artist, with an impressive grasp of lyrical composition and melodic ingenuity. Her music is original, diverse and authentic, and she has the most beautiful voice you will ever hear. This is a great song, which is sure to captivate the listener from beginning to end. Incidentally, I have also been exploring her back catalogue, which contains an abundance of fabulous tunes out there for all you music lovers to sing along to.  

Katherine Dines - love and peace to everyone.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Album Review: All Together - Kathryn The Grape

Kathryn Cloward, also known as Kathryn the Grape, is an award-winning author, multigenre songwriter, producer and publisher from California. Her new album All Together is her finest work to date. Featuring ten self penned songs of inspired melody and lyrical ingenuity. The album takes the listener on an emotional journey of fun, self reflection and personal growth. All in all, this is a feel good album, featuring lively instrumentation, uplifting harmonies, and a message of positivity, joy and hope.

There is certainly plenty to dance to on this album. the opening track "Shake Shake Shake", is an absolute foot stomper, featuring some lively retro guitar, hovering between a pulsating rhythm section. "Let's Celebrate" has a similarly upbeat approach, encouraging the listener to both seize the moment and 'celebrate and shine'.  "Jump With Joy" continues in a similar vein; introducing the song with an ambient keyboard, from which the kids are then encouraged to 'jump with joy', over an infectious rhythm.  

Despite the upbeat approach, many of the songs dig deeper and explore the importance of self-love, and the need to simply be yourself. "I Like Being Me" explores this theme with a fresh funky feel, whereas "I Feel Good About Myself" combines an awesome guitar hook with a slightly harder edge. The message here is not just one of personal joy, it's also about self-awareness, gratitude and appreciation 'for family and friends, and all that I have been given'.

Some songs have a more melancholy feel. 'It's Okay To Cry', features a gentle piano, and a wistful voice desperately trying to come to terms with an array of emotions that 'come out of my eyes'.  However, there is always a positive spin as we are then told that this is 'a natural thing to do'.  I'm reliably informed that the song was inspired by witnessing a man instructing his son that 'boys don't cry'. Well, if we can create a positive message out of narrow-minded assertions then count me in.

"Choosing Kindness" has more of a funky laid back feel, and features a lively bass, some nimble drumming and an assertive piano. The chorus is more anthemic, expressing the importance of being kind through a detailed explanation of 'what choosing kindness means'. Here the artist expresses how it's what we think that really matters, because 'thoughts can be like weeds that spread negativity', or 'like water that streams positivity'. The listener is therefore encouraged to 'think thoughts that are kind', not just for ourselves 'but others all the time'. The lyrics have a wonderful resonance, and manage to explore deep emotional challenges, but with a lightness of touch that is both gentle and thought provoking.

"I Am That I Am" is a real feel-good track, and arguably the most commercial track on the album. Here, the artist lists a number of positive attributes on the verse, before exploding into a celebratory chorus, which reminded me a little of vintage Blondie. The song, also features some captivating harmonies that further emphasise the point. Undoubtedly the most original track on the album, where a list of positive attributes are read out almost like a shopping list for self-esteem and personal growth.

My favourite track on the album is the magnificent "Just Be". Featuring some guitar work that reminded me a little of Coldplay on the verse and Hank Marvin on the chorus.  The song could almost fit alongside the Brit pop sound of the nineties, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. The song also contains wonderfully uplifting harmonies, that add immense flair and zest to the song throughout. I literally had the music swimming round my head all day.

Last but by no means least, the intoxicating "You Matter To Me", which features a lively synth competing with an intricate rhythm section. The chorus again utilises the song title, and like many of the tracks it features at the start of the song. Themes of respect and acceptance are captured throughout, and fit perfectly with the overall theme of the album.

This album features a wonderful selection of songs, with potent lyrics, hummable harmonies, and musical dexterity throughout. The major strength of the album is in the lyrics, which are quite brilliant throughout. The album highlights how kind thoughts, words, and actions can lead to positive outcomes for everyone. The music is superbly arranged and produced, and succeeds in combining upbeat dance songs, with an introspective and yet consistently positive message. All in all a tremendous selection of songs, and an absolute must for music lovers everywhere.

Kathryn the Grape - using words to be kind.