In the complicated deluge of our contemporary climates, there is a certain solace & comfort to be found in the rural & rustic sounds of the country & Americana arts. Frenchtown, NJ by way of Nashville, London, Paris & currently based out of NYC artist Kate Grom presents the world premiere of lifelong labor of passion, love & purpose with her just released album—Heroine. Taking part in the grand holistic tradition of conveying narratives through earth grounded cycles of song speak to the sentimental parts of the spirit & mind where memories of nostalgia are blended with elegant urgencies of our modern era.
Heroine finds Kate picking up the mantle from the Loretta Lynn & Tammy Wynette schools of sound that adheres to the pantheon of icons that once made their debut at the Grand Ole Opry. Grom emerges from the dawn’s dusty mist on “Whistle Cry” where she takes on the heroic role as the Heroine with a series of tales to tell. Personification & charged memories roam & ramble forth on “Whistle Cry” that takes off like a calvary posse passing through badlands of rough brush & ancient trails. “Lose My Mind” recounts the feeling of being brought to one’s breaking point, while “Tricks” reflects upon the games of love & trust where the sport is spelled out with plenty of that pedal steel touch & twang. Perspectives of moving onward from broken relationships are ruminated over on “Already Know” about getting the heck out of dodge for a new town, a new lover, and a whole new lease on life. The radio ready “Under the Gun” exemplifies the kick from within that Kate fosters through her craft where the feeling of immediacy & the urge to keep on moving is expressed in a blazing field of chords & heart thumping percussion.
The title track “Heroine” represents Kate’s own re-commitment to herself and the compass of her heart as she sets out on her own musical & personal path. Galloping through the rogue’s gallery of inner recollections, recalling traces of the past while pacing toward the possibilities of tomorrow; our Heroine continues her gallant ride through the thick, thin, good, bad & ugly on the contemporary country ballad “This Storm”. Kate closes up the honky-tonks at last call on “Whiskey Eyes” about lusty gazes where just one more double becomes two, three, four & more. Heroine‘s curtain call on “Only Way Out” drives home the album’s motif of new beginnings where Kate describes setting out on her own, picking up the pieces of the past only to leave them behind without a sound. After the following debut full-length listen, read our interview with Kate Grom.
From rural upbringing, Nashville learning to NYC; describe the journey that would inspire the evocative narrative cycle that comprises the summation of the full-length, Heroine.
I grew up on a horse farm in the countryside of Frenchtown, NJ. Frenchtown is a quaint artist town bordering the Delaware River. The raw beauty of my childhood surroundings—forest, fields, creeks, the horses—are all a part of who I am. I spent a lot of time locked inside my imagination, creating abstract stories of my own.
The horses also taught me so much. They are wise and majestic creatures and show you the power of your words as well as the power of silence. You’re always listening & feeling when interacting with such powerful animals.
These early inspirations have had a great impact on my interactions in life as well as my approach to writing music. No matter where I go…I always try to connect with my surroundings and actively listen to the story revealing itself in the moment.
What was key for you in finding your own voice & conveying abstract feelings & visions to songs?
Time kept moving, from NJ to Nashville, London, and NYC. Life experience grew as did memories and inspirations. These experiences became just as real and relatable as the imaginations that ran wild in the landscape of my childhood. Writing about what was real became equally as important as writing about the abstract…little did I know I was about to go through a transformative time as an artist.
I decided to spend some time in Paris, France, to sort through who I was as an artist. I had to get away from the stories everybody else was telling around me. Many of the stories were just blending together, and I felt mine were too abstract, too visual, too emotional, too real. They didn’t fit into the mold. Independent by nature, I was struggling to carry the torch of my independence as an artist. The people in Paris embraced my kind of storytelling and were a wellspring of life to the music when it was most needed. As a result it seemed like I wrote (and consumed cheese) endlessly while in Paris. I returned to NYC feeling an energy i cannot explain.
My narrative was certainly shaped by that newfound independence, but also through life experience and my upbringing. Being real and relatable to everyday situations is very important to me. Even if the story is at times abstract, the message is always real. I want people to be able to relate to these stories…if a friend, or myself, had a certain experience or felt a certain way…doesn’t everybody feel that way sometimes? I hope listeners can empathize with these stories, be drawn into the messages they evoke, feel something. Even if it’s not put out there right in front of them and requires the beauty of imagination.
For a world addicted to super-electro everything why do you feel the new evolutions of Americana still matter, and are important here in 2017?
I feel because of this, we need Americana & folk music, now, more than ever. Where are the stories that don’t cancel out the noise in our hearts and minds? Why are they not being heard as frequently? I feel that if Americana/folk evolutions do not continue, we lose an element of authenticity and a voice that still matters, and now more than ever. It’s a strange feeling to turn on the radio or just exist in a music filled world today, when feels like I’m just being told what my voice is every time I turn on the radio because it’s harder to find authentic music in between. Where’s the heart in that? Perhaps I was born in the wrong decade… It’s important to note that there are artists I sincerely respect who are applying electro inspirations to americana/folk roots—something I do admire and enjoy listening to—I’m not talking about this.
Classic records that you feel are absolutely essential?
Rolling Stones, Let it Bleed
The Smiths, The Queen is Dead
Loretta Lynn, Van Lear rose
Fleetwood Mac, self-titled
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Patti Smith, Wave
Current records that you feel are absolutely essential?
War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream
Sharon Van Etten, Are we There
Kurt Vile, Smoke Ring for my Halo
First Aid Kit, Stay Gold
Katheleen Edwards, Voyageur
Laura Marling, I speak because I Can
Other artists you want to give a shout out to that are doing rad things right now that the world should know about?
Andrew Combs, Monica Heldal, New Myths, Lissie, Marika Hackman, Ruston Kelly.
Kate Grom’s album Heroine is available now.
Catch Kate’s album debut concert tomorrow, Saturday February 25 at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC.