“Each of the songs I’ve written for Wanderlust has been a reflection of a different place of travel—the album is a collection of songs from my journeys,” explains Dallas, Texas-based singer-songwriter Kim Edwards. The epic and elegantly emotional chamber pop on Kim’s debut album, Wanderlust, released March 27th on the indie White Shore Music Company documents three across the country moves and a lifetime devoted to studying lush theatrical pop.
“As a kid I studied Alan Menken’s Disney Scores for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. I remember being 14 and doing some online research and I found the company in charge of the scores and I wrote them said ‘I’m a student of orchestration, could you send me some scores?' and they did!” she says laughing.
The 14-track album is an introspective travelogue of relationships, stories, personal growth and spirituality. The dynamic sprawl of the wonderfully quirky arrangements extends from intimate piano-and-voice spare elegance to epically sweeping strings and playful circus-y brass passages, often in the same song. The album’s mood is satisfyingly diverse, from the chamber-pop poise of “Blue” to the breezy tropical folk of “Aloha.” Kim’s singing has an angelic purity with a touch of silky grit. Her delivery is graceful and tender, managing to be emotionally resonant without overly affected. Kim’s uniquely playful musicality has garnered favorable comparisons to Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson. Wanderlust debuted at #25 in the iTunes Top 200 Singer-Songwriter charts, an impressive feat for a totally D.I.Y. artist who used standard networking platforms like Kickstarter and Facebook for exposure.
Wanderlust’s stunning single, “The Show,” subtly and coyly wraps around the listener, starting off with a jaunty piano motif that’s then layered with airy Queen-esque backup vocals and a whimsical snare drum pattern. The song exudes pop awe with seasick trumpets, festive trombones, a plinking triangle; it’s an expansive but tastefully nuanced relationship narrative that manages to be both humorously absurd and warmly sincere. Kim sings: I watched you walk a high tight-rope/ The net below your only hope/And when you fell you said it was a joke/ And we knew the show was over.
Eight songs into Wanderlust “The Show’s” vaudevillian melodic motif is reprised instrumentally in “Interlude.” “My producer, Randy Adams, and I decided to put that in the way old movies have an intermission. I wanted to do something different. Having a brass interlude tribute to ‘The Show’ wasn’t normal,” Kim says good-naturedly, “I tend to like doing things you wouldn’t expect.”
Kim studied classical piano starting at age four and for a short while was a piano performance major in college. Her grounding in music theory, orchestration, and arrangement is clearly evident on Wanderlust. But despite such an academic background, she has a free-spirited creativity that keeps the album’s musicality joyfully accessible. Her process for tracking the sweetly sentimental strings on “London-town” is a window into this low-key, natural artistic flow. “A friend who plays violin and viola came into the studio and we just winged it. We'd just hum parts, record it with the violin or viola, and layer them,” Kim explains of the tracking process.
Kim credits moving from her snug Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania hometown for much of Wanderlust’s lyrical inspiration. "I moved across the country 3 times in the last 2 years: Pennsylvania to Texas to California and then to Texas again to record the album,” she details. “When you do this, you meet all sorts of people with totally different viewpoints and life experiences. I think my travels have really helped me grow as a person and as a songwriter. The song 'Wanderlust' kind of encapsulates all that for me, which is the reason I chose it to title the album. And the line, 'Where I go, God only knows,' is a reflection of my own personal belief that there's a God, and He is guiding me through this entire cross-country adventure."
The scripture-based track “121” is emotionally inviting and non-denominationally biased, it’s like a devotional lullaby. The track builds from mournful violins to powerful pop-rock dynamics. “I just love how that scripture is beautifully worded. I love the imagery and the flow of it. I appreciate ancient literature of any kind,” Kim says. “When I was writing the music those words just came out; it’s one of my favorite passages in the bible. It brings out a lot of comfort and assurance.”
Kim and her producer Randy Adams took a year to finish the album due to Randy’s busy schedule as an in-demand sound engineer. “For the longest time I didn’t hear the finished product until a month or two before the release date. When I heard all instruments together, I got choked up,” Kim says candidly. “I’m so used to hearing myself with just piano; my songs were bones before but then they came to life as a living, breathing creature.”
Kim’s success on the iTunes charts came from humble motivations: She simply put out a Facebook message asking friends and fans to support her digital release. “I was looking at the bottom of Top 200 Singer-Songwriter list and didn’t see my name,” she says of the day she posted her Facebook message. “Then I scrolled up, and it said that the album debuted at #92. As the day went by, it hit #25, which was remarkable considering there wasn't any marketing or publicity." Kim is now taking Wanderlust stateside on her first tour, playing coffeehouses and intimate living room performances. Don’t miss this charming and uplifting chamber-pop artist when she hits your local java spot, and check out her heartwarming travelogue Wanderlust on iTunes.