Growing up in Brooklyn with one ear permanently glued to the radio, a multi-instrumental education, a four-part-harmony-in-the-car family, notebooks full of poetry, and a voracious curiosity for the inner workings of music from the Beatles to Tom Waits, Jimmy Reed to John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin to Dvorak to The Smiths, Kris Delmhorst was a songwriter waiting to happen.
As it turned out, there was a while to wait, as her path wound through a studio art degree, a time living and working on a remote homestead farm in Maine, a journey by thumb around Ireland learning the fiddle from various old-timers, a turn on the crew of a seagoing schooner, and a stint teaching an outdoor program to 5th graders on Cape Cod before the right combination of skills and experience suddenly led to the appearance of the first song in Delmhorst's own voice. That beginning effort has since evolved into a body of work that reflects the wide-ranging travels of an inquisitive artist, songs with pavement under their feet or dirt under their fingernails, or sometimes out of sight of land altogether.
Delmhorst's third CD "Songs for a Hurricane," set to be released in August 2003 on Signature Sounds, is the latest stride in a career she's built in classic Do-It-Yourself fashion, touring the country incessantly and releasing her music independently. And clearly she's doing something right, having sold 25,000 copies of her first two discs, "Appetite" and "Five Stories", on the strength of strong performances and word-of-mouth alone. She's toured the USA and Europe with Dar Williams, Chris Smither, Catie Curtis, and Mary Gauthier. Along the way she's garnered six Boston Music Award nominations, first place in the 2001 Telluride Troubadour Songwriter Competition, and inclusion in a stack of DJ top ten lists from coast to coast.
Between tours, the well-worn suitcase gets unpacked in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Delmhorst has found her musical home in the vibrant Boston music community. The multi-faceted musician thrives on the range of opportunities to recombine and re-inspire; performing and recording as a side player on cello, fiddle, and voice, creating bands and side projects, and serving on the production team for two editions of "Respond," award-winning compilations funding work to stop domestic violence.
Now Delmhorst readies "Songs For A Hurricane," produced with Morphine's Billy Conway at his Hi-n-Dry Studio in Cambridge. This time around, the team chose to trim back the range of instruments and let the songs stand up for themselves without losing the rich sonic textures of "Five Stories," also recorded with Conway. This was achieved in part by using different guitarists, each chosen specifically as a personality match to a particular song. "Hurricane's" musical crew includes Conway on drums, Andrew Mazzone on bass guitars, Julie Wolf on keyboards, and, on various tracks, Mark Erelli, Jabe Beyer, Kevin Barry, and Steve Mayone playing guitar.
Early on in the recording, Delmhorst developed a vision for the album's momentum. As the title would suggest, the record relates to a turbulent time, and the sequence of songs traces a hurricane's arc; the suspended motion that precedes it, the corporeal build of energy, the sudden calm of the eye, the tension and release as elements combine, the pensive conclusion as it settles, the destruction and redemption left in its wake. Delmhorst certainly knows a thing or two about the transformative journey, and "Songs for a Hurricane" tells a universal tale of going into the teeth of a storm and coming out the other side whole, wiser for wear, and forever changed.