Album of the Week, March 23: Love Songs – A Time You May Embrace by Krystle Warren and the Faculty

KWLoveSongsKrystle Warren was born in Kansas City, MO and moved to New York where she busked and developed a distinctive musical style. Through the early years of her career she also lived in Paris and San Francisco, making talented friends and continuing to grow musically. She began recording sessions at the legendary Electric Lady studios in 2005, but practical and economic realities stretched out the recording of her debut album over four years. In the meantime she released a pair of EPs that received critical praise, drawing comparisons with Tracy Chapman and Nina Simone. Warren herself has noted influences from people as diverse as Paul Simon, Dusty Springfield, and Bill Withers. Toss all that in a blender with a bit of John Lennon and Sarah Vaughan and you still have only an inkling of her powerful, unique talent.

Circles was finally released in  2009, a sprawling testament to her varied styles, all anchored with her husky alto and great stylistic range. She came to the attention of Rufus Wainwright at a Nick Drake tribute and later performed at tributes to his late mother, Kate McGarrigle. After a couple of years of regular touring and performing, she decided that her next musical project would be quite different from her first.

Title Love Songs – A Time You May Embrace
Act Krystle Warren and the Faculty
Label Parlour Door Release Date April 2, 2012
Producer Krystle Warren
U.S. Chart  n/c U.K. Chart  n/c
  1. Tuesday Morning
  2. Five Minutes Late
  3. Forever Is A Long Time
  4. Every Morning
  5. You Can Take Me With You
  6. I Worry Less
  7. Little Wonder
  8. The One Who Takes You Home
  9. Your Many Coloured Days
  10. Every Other Day
  11. The Clod and the Pebble
  12. Love You

Inspired by The Beatles (aka the White Album) and Tusk, she wanted to record a double album. Winnowing a collection of over 100 songs down to 25, she opted for a theme of Love Songs to split over the two discs, A Time You May Embrace and A Time to Refrain from Embracing. Warren also wanted to capture the warmth and immediacy of live recording, so with engineer Brian Bender, she arranged 13 days of recording and set up time with her regular band, the Faculty, and an array of friends and colleagues. They set up everything in the studio and rehearsed and recorded all 25 songs live with no tinkering or overdubs. (Warren narrates a very nice mini-documentary on the making of the album.) For practical reasons, the album is being released in two parts. The first came out in 2012 on her own Parlour Door label and proves that her determination truly paid off.

The album opens with the charming Tuesday Morning. It sets the stage for the 12 autobiographical love songs, all visiting various aspects of the joys of a loving relationship. This track is a seemingly simple narration of the singer’s day, detailing minor annoyances and celebrations of everyday life. With a rolling beat and a slowly building backdrop that adds strings at just the right moment, it’s  a perfect welcome to this lovely journey. The very personal nature of the lyrics transcends itself, offering universal themes that are easy for the listener to embrace.

Five Minutes Late is a delight, one of Warren’s finest songs. With Dixieland style brass and a delightful fiddle break, it looks at the chances we take and the opportunities we can miss if we aren’t careful. Bursting with joy, it shows off Warren’s vocal range and lyrical smarts all in one great package. Forever Is A Long Time opens with a heavenly choir note and rolls through a meditation on the magic of a love that lasts. Every Morning takes a slightly darker look at the same theme, with a slow, brooding look at the caution that can overwhelm even committed lovers. Warren’s warm voice caresses every note, making it clear that the doubts are fleeting.

You Can Take Me With You is a perfect vignette of a song, a quick study of the time couples spend apart. Bouncy and yearning, it’s a wonderful story song featuring a perfectly simple guitar line and great harmonies. Another standout track is I Worry Less a soaring anthem of the way a strong relationship can help overcome the pressures of everyday life. The organ line is a perfect anchor, as Warren explores the deeper part of her range. The song is perfectly placed at the center of the cycle.

On Little Wonder, Warren takes a quick look at the history lovers bring to their relationships, celebrating her good fortune. The One Who Takes You Home is another view on a similar theme, as she notes the people who admire her beloved and is delighted to be the lucky one who gets her at the end of the day. With repeated lines and a building sense of happy need, it’s nicely constructed and lovingly performed. Your Many Coloured Days, written with long-time bassist Solomon Dorsey, is a celebration of the more physical side of love. Built on a charming, circular pattern, it draws the listener in and bubbles with warm sensuality.

WarrenLoveSongsInsertEvery Other Day is a short jaunt through the disagreements we all encounter. Lovingly crafted, it shows off Warren’s wit and warmth in equal measure. It’s a nice look at the need for give and take to make relationships work. The jazzy tempo and complex rhythms under the simple harmonies drive things along perfectly. For The Clod and the Pebble, Warren adapts a poem by William Blake, setting it in a wonderful folky framework and dressing it up with nicely Beatlesque string work. The album ends with the simply titled Love You. It’s an ironic look at the enterprise of crafting love songs, expressing Warren’s self-doubt while dismissing the need for such doubts by sheer force of talent. The song features an amazing bit of jazz scatting and a soaring run through her vocal range, making the closer the most ecstatically real song on the album.

Love Songs – A Time You May Embrace is a delight from start to finish. Krystle Warren realized her ambitious vision with skill and aplomb, assembling a sympathetic and talented group of supporters and creating a diverse but focused musical adventure. With wit, insight, personal stories, and universal themes, she built a nearly flawless look at the power of love, leaving fans eager for the second half of this wonderful journey.

About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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