My brother Christopher, a professional musician living in Nashville, Tennessee, is fond of saying that truly great songwriting is only obtained through intense suffering and personal pain.
While I have disputed his statement over the years, I grudgingly will admit that, in the case of a new sonic project from one of the Mad River Valley’s most prolific and hardest-working musicians, my brother may very well be dead on.
Let’s say you’ve been through a rough personal patch, and need to figure out some way of making sense of it all.
Many of us embrace therapy of one sort of another – a healthy response, to reach out and seek some support.
Multi-talented musician James Kinne of Fayston practices his own form of personal therapy.
But first, an aside.
To say that Kinne is perhaps the biggest holistic musical talent in the Mad River Valley – as an instrumentalist, a writer, a vocalist, and a producer with some remarkable ears – is probably a bald understatement (and I speak from personal experience, having performed with him for several years now.)
Simply put, Kinne makes music. Damn fine music.
From soup to nuts.
Here’s how he works.
He writes all the songs.
He plays all the instruments.
He records and mixes the whole project in his own home Stillwater Studio (with mastering help from Jim Bowen.)
And then, he puts his music out there for the world to hear.
“Aletheia” is Kinne’s third solo effort, and it is easily his most ambitious project to date, comprised of no fewer than seventeen songs.
OK, so back to music and personal suffering.
“Aletheia” is built around the collapse of Kinne’s young marriage several months ago, and his resulting journey towards healing and a deeper understanding of this complicated project we call “living.”
I know what you are thinking. Sounds intense.
And it is.
Yet, Kinne has managed to craft a CD of songs that is hopeful, forward-looking, and manages to be at once deeply personal and big-picture universal.
“This Side Of,” the CD’s first track, kicks off the project with some edgy electric guitar power chording, as Kinne anchors the listener in a transitional moment. “In Spades” and “Games,” tracks 2 and 3, both come out of the gate with some infectiously hooky bass and electric guitar grooves. Kinne has a tremendous ear for melody, and is able to build ear-engaging arrangements around a variety of riffs with ease. Quite impressive.
My favorite track (#7) is a tune called “All I Know,” in which Kinne sings of loss, redemption and moving on. “You could have been the one to save my life, point me in the right direction,” he observes. “I could have been the hero in your life, if not for this lost connection.”
And then the kicker.
“Even though the path was overgrown,” he concludes, “I’d rather have grown old with you…than be alone.”
I could on for pages about the virtues of each of the seventeen songs on this CD.
Suffice to say, Kinne’s writing, his musicianship, and the arranging on this CD are first rate.
A short review can do it little justice.
“Aletheia” has to be heard to be believed.
Listen to the whole record online – for free – and decide for yourself at http://jameskinne.bandcamp.com/.
And then, purchase a copy and support one of the Valley’s finest working musicians.