|Korby Lenker — Thousand Springs (Jul 14, 2017)|
Korby Lenker — Thousand Springs (Jul 14, 2017) Location: Twin Falls, ID
Album release: Jul 14, 2017 / November 11th, 2017
Record Label: Soundly Music, LLC
01. Northern Lights 3:34
02. Friend And A Friend 3:32
03. Nothing Really Matters 3:05
04. Last Man Standing 3:05
05. Book Nerd 2:09
06. Uh Oh 2:58
07. Stormy Seas 4:40
08. Father To The Man 3:45
09. Late Bloomers 3:02
10. Love Is The Only Song 3:14
11. Mermaids 3:49
12. Wherever You Are 4:24
℗ 2017 Soundly Music, LLC
• Recorded in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Tennessee
About Korby Lenker
• Growing up in Idaho, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and multi~instrumentalist Korby Lenker started taking piano lessons in 1984 at the age of eight, and he really never looked back, stating that he never had a backup plan, that “it was always gonna be music.” He had a band in high school, Clockwork Orange, which did new wave and rock covers, and while attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, he formed a regionally successful alt~bluegrass band called the Barbed Wire Cutters in the late 1990s. When the Cutters broke up following a pair of well~received albums — 2002’s self~titled Barbed Wire Cutters and 2003’s Full Moon to Rise — he moved to Seattle to focus on a solo career. Blessed with considerable acoustic guitar skills in multiple styles, and a versatile, flexible singing voice, Lenker worked hard on his songwriting, developing an accessible, non~impressionistic style that hid subtle sophistications, a bit like Paul Simon, say, or a poppier Randy Newman, combining an ease of delivery with strong song character and substance. He moved to Nashville in 2007. Lenker has released several solo albums, starting with First Takes in 2001 and including Ghost of Whiteboy in 2002 and Bellingham in 2003. He began moving in a more rock~ and pop~oriented, but still largely acoustic~based, direction with 2006’s impressive King of Hearts. The self~titled Korby Lenker appeared in 2014. ~ Steve LeggettKorby Lenker’s Meandering Path to a ‘Thousand Springs’.
BY MICHAEL DOHERTY AT 3:42 PM
↑↑↑ Korby Lenker’s new album, Thousand Springs, was recorded at various locations in Idaho, where he grew up. Places he has a connection to. And perhaps that’s one reason this album (his seventh) has a passionate and personal feel. Other portions of the album were recorded in other states, Lenker traveling to different places to record contributions by several musicians. And that might be part of the reason for the relaxed and playful vibe the album has at times (like on “Book Nerd”). Thousand Springs features all original music, written or co~written by Korby Lenker, and the writing, for me, is what really makes this CD one worth paying attention to.
↑↑↑ The album begins gently, easing us in with “Northern Lights,” a song written by Korby Lenker and Jon Weisberger. This is a pretty and intimate tune, and it works so well to pull us into the album. Its chorus has something of a hopeful sound, which I appreciate. “All the way to Chicago/Wonder what will I find/And I’m leaving behind/The stars and the northern lights.” And I love these lines: “The night sky’s a chandelier/Windshield makes a frame/Radio I turned down low/I thought I heard your name.” The second song, “Friend And A Friend,” also finds him on the road. It’s a song about traveling and human connections (what else do we need?). “You wake up feeling low/And then you get behind the wheel and go/Some days it’s wide open/Some days it’s a dead end.” And check out these lines: “This is the life, the life I’ve chosen/Not even I can see the cards I’m holding/And if tonight doesn’t go my way/Well, there’s always tomorrow.” ↑↑↑ “Friend And A Friend” was written by Korby Lenker and Molly Tuttle (Tuttle also provides harmony vocals on this track). I will be adding this song to my road trip play list.
↑↑↑ “Nothing Really Matters” is a delightful, happy~sounding tune with mandolin, banjo and fiddle. The vocal approach reminds me a bit of some of Paul Simon’s material. “Nothing really matters when I’m here with you/Clouds rush in, the sky’s still blue/Storm is just passing through/Nothing really matters when I’m here with you.” This one was written by Korby Lenker and Stoll Vaughn. Annie Staninec is on fiddle, John Reischman is on mandolin, and Molly Tuttle plays clawhammer banjo. This is one of my favorite tracks.
↑↑↑ “Book Nerd” was written by Korby Lenker, and features Kai Welch on accordion, and Chris “Critter” Eldridge on baritone ukulele. This is one that has a very playful feel, and of course I appreciate the literary references. However, my friend Jan will flip out if she hears that line about To Kill A Mockingbird. This one is followed by another of my favorites, “Uh Oh,” written by Korby Lenker and Holiday Mathis. I love the vocal approach here, and Caroline Spence provides harmony vocals.
↑↑↑ “Father To The Man” is another happy~sounding pop~folk tune, this one written by Korby Lenker and Amy Speace. Amy provides harmony vocals on this track, and Korby plays ukulele. “Everything was spinning/But in the middle of the room/I saw my younger self/To my surprise, he recognized me right away/He said, ‘I know you well.’” Perhaps the best song on the album is “Love Is The Only Song,” written by Korby Lenker and John Martin. I can’t help but love this beautiful song. Certainly it doesn’t hurt that this track features cello, an instrument I love. That’s Mai Bloomfield on cello. Angel Snow provides backing vocals. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Love, it has no pride/And love is the only reason/In this world gone wrong/When everything else is gone/Love is the only song.” And it’s always good to hear someone tell us, “But remember, it’s been like this forever/You are not alone/We’re all in this together.” ↑↑↑ http://michaelsmusiclog.blogspot.com/
By: Brittany Frederick AXS Contributor Jul 6, 2017
↑↑↑ Korby Lenker will release his next album Thousand Springs on July 14. Before the album’s arrival, AXS conducted an email interview with Lenker to learn more about his most recent record and find out why live performances are so important to him. Find out more about Thousand Springs and his summer tour below, and sample his sound by watching the music video for “Here We Go Again” by using the media player included with this article.
AXS: How would you introduce yourself to music fans who may not have heard you yet?
Korby Lenker (KL): I guess I should say that I’ve been singing since before I can remember and I’ve been playing instruments since I was eight. So in that sense it has always been a part of my life. Piano was my first instrument; I took piano lessons for eight years. [Then] I was in a high school rock band called Clockwork Orange. This was in Twin Falls, ID. My parents weren’t musical and it wasn’t around because I was in such a small town in rural Idaho, so basic to my experience with music was a need to invent my own way, to discover for myself. I was going to live a creative life one way or another and at every point in my life when I could have chosen a safer way, I chose the crazy one.
AXS: How would you describe Thousand Springs?
KL: I made the exact record that I wanted to make. It’s a really personal record. I didn’t just write the songs, I did the producing as well. I was able to collaborate with people who inspire me personally, such as Anthony DaCosta and Anna Tivel. Songwise, I really like “Friend and a Friend” and I like the way the track “Stormy Seas” turned out. On some level, I want the songs to be easy to like. That’s the pop element in what I do. But it’s also really important to me that there be something that hangs with the listener after they’re done with the music. I try to touch on heavier themes.That said, it should always be as fun as possible.
AXS: Your creative process is a bit different from most artists. Can you describe how you work?
KL: I maintain a daily journal and I record my relationship with the world around me and that’s what basically inspires everything I do creatively, be it songwriting or short story writing. I like to spend a lot of time alone. There’s a long gestation period to pretty much everything I do. The other side of the coin is that I’m constantly setting deadlines for myself, which helps me finish projects on a regular basis.
AXS: You’re starting a summer tour in support of the record. Why is live touring so important to you?
KL: I’ve always been a touring artist. I live and die by the live show. The record was important and fun to make but there’s something magical about live music. I like to connect to my fans and meet the people who make this possible for me.
AXS: So what’s the last great live show that you would say you went to?
KL: Last Friday in Nashville, I saw Peter Rowan play at City Winery. He was an original member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. I knew a lot of the songs and he told stories about the old days with Bill. I felt like a little kid! ↑↑↑ https://www.axs.com/
AUGUST 21, 2017
• The first time I saw Korby Lenker was at Bumbershoot. I had moved to Seattle from Des Moines about four years prior, and in many ways was still trying to figure out where I fit in a city much larger and much cooler than I was used to. Coincidentally, Lenker had recently done the same, moving to the Emerald City from Idaho by way of Bellingham, WA, where he had fronted a hugely popular local act called the Barbed Wire Cutters, but had become too big a fish for B~Ham’s small pond. By the time I saw Lenker perform at Bumbershoot, he was fresh off releasing his album “King of Hearts,” which had been recorded with Bellingham musicians and was getting plenty of love on Seattle’s KEXP.
• “I had made two (albums) before that one,” Lenker said during a phone interview from Nashville, where he currently makes his home. “I made an acoustic record maybe two years prior to “King of Hearts,” and that enabled me to tour Europe. Then I made a kind of bluegrass gospel album.”
• “I had all these bluegrass pickers that I knew in the Northwest, and I wanted to be able to make an album and not be limited to the guys in the Barbed Wire Cutters.”
• “King of Hearts” did ok, but life in Seattle never seemed to catch on for Lenker the way his previous home had. There’s a specific vibe to that city and, unlike much larger places like Chicago or New York, it’s pretty hard to just do your own thing, if it doesn’t match that vibe.
• “I don’t think that Seattle got me,” he concurred. “I was really kind of a Bellingham guy, which was more acoustic roots~driven. Which was opposed to Seattle, where at the time Modest Mouse was really hitting hard. And that’s not who I am.”
• “What really prompted the move from Seattle,” he continued, “was that I really wanted to tour constantly, and that’s really hard to do when you’re based in the corner of the country.”
• And so, in 2007, Lenker packed up and moved across the continent, to Nashville.
• “There were a couple of people who really helped make the landing as soft as possible. I had a guy rent me an apartment, sight unseen. It was a great fit.”
• But if the city itself wound up feeling right personally, creatively, Nashville provided Lenker with a wakeup call. His music was not welcomed with the open arms that Bellingham had provided, money got tight, and Lenker found himself in the position of having to take a day job to keep the lights on.
• For the next couple of years, Korby Lenker: Musician would be mostly known as Korby Lenker: Valet. He parked cars at a couple different hotels, playing gigs on the side, but having trouble navigating the unfamiliar waters of not being appreciated right out of the gate.
• But talent and persistence are difficult bedfellows to keep down, and by 2011 things finally clicked, and Lenker was able to get back to what he loved full time.
• “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, having to work a straight job, and starting over,” he admits. “I had kind of taken it for granted that I was going to be able to always play music for a living. And when it was made plain as day that I was not going to be able to do that, it made me realize that I don’t have any real marketable skills.”
• “I know how to play music, and that’s it,” he continued. “(Parking cars) was menial, and nobody really cared, but it gave me a lot of freedom to kind of explore myself and see what was next.”
• The time as a working stiff gave Lenker a new appreciation for the life of a musician but, more importantly it gave him a greater understanding of who he was, and how that fit into the greater scheme of things.
• “When I was in it and just working during the day, it was clear that I had this strong conviction that I’m an artist,” he said. “This is what I do. It doesn’t matter if I have to have another job to stay alive, this is how I interpret my world. So I got pretty good at video work, I started writing some short stories. I expanded my skill set to better suit the DIY approach that I’d always had.”
• Now, it feels as though all of that; all the moves and day jobs and building of skills and growth as a person — all of it has culminated in Lenker’s latest album, “Thousand Springs.” Recorded in seven states and employing the talents of nearly 30 musicians from around the country, “Thousand Springs” is the most fully realized version of Lenker we have seen to date.
• “There’s an ethos in Nashville that’s a little pretentious,” he said. “There’s always this push to cash in on something, and I just don’t adhere to that. I couldn’t even have made this album two years ago.”
• “This record, for me, was a desire to make something really personal,” he explained. “I don’t know how to chase trends. I have no idea what’s going on in contemporary culture. Anytime I’m strategic about something I’m doing, it ends up being stupid. It’s not believable. My music isn’t a thing that I do for four hours in the evening. It’s who I am. And I wanted to do something that reflected that.”
• In that vein, Lenker went back to his roots, taking his recording equipment on the road, and recording songs from places he grew up in, towns he knew, and spaces that carried personal significance. He crowdfunded $20,000 off Kickstarter, and headed home to Idaho. There, in places like Twin Falls and Snake River Canyon, Lenker laid down the musical framework for every song, finding its soul. Once accomplished, it was back on the road, to places like Austin, Boston and back to Nashville, recording with musicians who added their voices to Lenker’s vision, helping to give breath and vision to the skeletons Lenker had built. The result is heartfelt, deeply meaningful, and at times breath taking.
• But for Lenker, “Thousand Springs” was the next step in life, rather than a culmination of anything. While the process of creating it may have been symbolic and at times even cathartic, Lenker has never been one to dwell or rest for too long. He’s got too much to say.
• “I just don’t look back,” he said. “I’m doing promo for ‘Thousand Springs’ now, but I’m already four songs into the next album.” • http://culturemyth.net/
|Korby Lenker — Thousand Springs (Jul 14, 2017)|