2012 Folk Alliance Region Midwest, Official Showcase
2012 NorthEast Regional Folk Alliance, Official Showcase, Washington Area Conference
2011 Kerrville NewFolk Competition, Finalist
2011 SouthWest Regional Folk Alliance Conference, Official Showcase
2011 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Emerging Artist Showcase, and "Most Wanted" Honorable Mention
2010 MidAtlantic Song Contest, Winner
In 2009, Karyn Oliver moved to a town called Boring with a broken heart and a cheap guitar. It was from this place that she created the album that made her both a Kerrville New Folk Finalist and a Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist in 2011, as well as a 2010 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest winner.
In 2011, Oliver moved to a town called New York City, with a much-renewed heart and a much better guitar named “Roxann”. It is from this place that she created what is her best album to date, “Magdalene”.
Karyn is part Joan Osborne, a touch of Janis Joplin and a bit of EmmyLou Harris – effortlessly oscillating from bluesy to country and back. Her musical inspiration comes primarily from the eclectic mix of music to which she was exposed while growing up in the musically diverse culture of Washington, D.C.
"Karyn Oliver has been a key member of the Baltimore and now New York folk music communities, but it's in Nashville that she's found a studio home, with Thomm Jutz supplying tasteful production to a fine collection of songs on Karyn's new album, Magdalene."
- John Platt, WFUV (March, 2013)
““Magdalene” is a gorgeous CD! The soulful and seductive voice of Karyn Oliver mesmerizes the listener with an intimate assembly of songs that celebrate the touches of saints and sinners that exist in all of us and examine the rewards that come from taking risks. Powerful songs shared by one of the most incredible voices on the acoustic music scene!”
- Ron Olesko, WFDU (March, 2013)
“Red Dress is a marvelous way to launch a career in a market headed up by Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams; but Karyn Oliver certainly appears to have the voice and writing skills to ride in their slipstream until the time is right for her to take over”
- Allan Harrison, Maverick Magazine (August, 2011)
“Karyn’s voice puts us in mind of Janis Joplin without the rasp or perhaps Lucinda Williams on steroids. We’re lucky to get her in the singer/songwriter realm. With that powerful instrument, she could be a star in the rock arena. Her voice has a swagger”
- Richard Cucarro - Acoustic Live (Dec, 2010)
In 2011, Karyn became a board member of The NorthEast Regional Folk Alliance, and is currently part of a touring tribute show celebrating the 40th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” Album.
Karyn Oliver - guitar and vox
New CD "Magdalene" Releasing May 13, 2013
"Red Dress" 2011
Both critically acclaimed CDs available on CD Baby and itunes.
"Slip Away With Me"
"In The Bleak Midwinter"
Weeping Willow Road
Slip Away With Me
CASE OF YOU 2012-03-07
Karyn Oliver - Red Dress
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Bittersweet country rock ballads from the pride of Baltimore Sadly, you can count the tv a...Bittersweet country rock ballads from the pride of Baltimore
Sadly, you can count the tv and programmes on one hand that showcase music for discerning adults, so it is going to be a long hard struggle on the road for someone as talented as Karyn Oliver to get the recognition she deserves. Karyn appears to have written all 13 songs herself and that will hold her in good stead, as several are very good indeed; especially Drag Your Angel Up, Heartbreak In Progress and Be With You but the best two songs on the album are the piano led tear-jerker Candy Dish and the rockier Happy Hour which both could be Tift Merritt songs if I didn’t know any better.
The subject matter is as you would expect – ‘broken love affairs’, ‘misplaced ideals’ and the perennial ‘men should know better’; but Karyn writes from the heart and makes you believe she has lived every word that she sings. On the finale Baby Don’t Speak Karyn gives him both barrels – ‘Let me whisper in your ear….let me try to make this clear…sometimes a woman just needs love…sometimes talk just ain’t enough’. I’m a bloke and I got the message loud and clear!
Red Dress is a marvelous way to launch a career in a market headed up by Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams; but Karyn Oliver certainly appears to have the voice and writing skills to ride in their slipstream until the time is right for her to take over.
Karyn Oliver - Red Dress
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Karyn’s voice puts us in mind of Janis Joplin without the rasp or perhaps Lucinda Williams on steroi...Karyn’s voice puts us in mind of Janis Joplin without the rasp or perhaps Lucinda Williams on steroids. We’re lucky to get her in the singer/songwriter realm. With that powerful instrument, she could be a star in the rock arena. Her voice has a swagger. She flexes its muscle in “Drag Your Angel Up,” which, lampooning male arrogance, admonishes a woman to not be too eager to put her feminine wares on display. On “How Long,” she lets it all hang out: How long ‘til you see what you lost in me… I’m surviving after all. Her voice is every bit the match for the wailing lead guitar. “How long,” indeed, before this woman is a major player on the singer/songwriter circuit?
Karyn Oliver: Girls Rock!
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Up-and-comer Indie singer-songwriter Karyn Oliver has not played Los Angeles yet, "but, yes," she sa...Up-and-comer Indie singer-songwriter Karyn Oliver has not played Los Angeles yet, "but, yes," she says "I would certainly like to." Oliver, originally from Boring, Maryland, grew up in the “musically diverse culture” of Washington, D.C. As a young girl Oliver learned to play the guitar thanks to the inspiration of such artists as the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, and Carol King. She received training in classical voice and musical theatre and would write her first songs before adulthood.
Oliver, presently working out of New York, has become a noteworthy new talent in the genres of Folk, Americana and Alternative Country. Oliver is yet another talent who prefers to keep the focus on her current work. Nevertheless, one interesting aspect to her career has been hosting WLOY radio’s “The Mobtown Couch” from 2005 until recently when she relocated to New York. The weekly show not only included her live performances but also focused on the talents of new and native musicians.
“Sadly, now that I am living in New York, I can no longer host The Mobtown Couch. But WLOY goes on, and still supports local and touring acts, so please continue your support of this fantastic independent, student run station.” Oliver’s music has also been aired on radio stations both here in the US and in Europe on such stations as WRYR, Radio Crystal Blue, Moray Firth Radio, The Upper Room with Joe Kelley, and Radio Parkstad. She has also played live on and Radio Midvliet in Den Haag.
Oliver would release digital “bonuses” or “sneak previews” of songs such as “Drag Your Angel Up” and “Isn’t It Funny” in 2006. The next year (2007) Oliver would take a break from performing to release her 12-track debut disc Hurricane. It featured the lead-in “America” and the popular title track “Hurricane”.
Execs from Sennheiser honored Oliver by asking her permission to use different songs from the release “to demonstrate the quality” of Neumann microphones. Oliver also became a regular contributor to the acoustic and Americana music scene in the Baltimore-DC area especially before her more recent relocation. In fact, the past President of the Baltimore Songwriters Association remains a board member.
Oliver would continue to perform both domestically and internationally. She would even make an appearance on Maryland Public Television’s “MPT Artworks”. In 2010 shortly after a recent UK tour and a successful debut at Boston’s most popular folk venue, Club Passim Oliver would complete and release her sophomore CD Red Dress.
The 13-track album would be produced by guitarist Thomm Jutz (Nanci Griffith) who would back Oliver’s guitar and vocals with experienced Nashville musicians including: Pat McInerney on drums and percussion, Mark Fain on bass, Barry Walsh on piano and keyboards and Peter Cronin and LeAnn Etheridge on additional vocals.
The work tends to feature songs about failing relationships or stories of women in less than perfect situations. The opener is “October Day”. This one contains both a tale of one woman’s trials as well as a more universal message.
“Right Now” is the second selection. This one takes the “Critic’s Choice”. Not to be confused with the 1991 Van Halen hit song, Oliver, winner of the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and 2011 Kerrville Newfolk Contest finalist, provides longing, soulful vocals are at perhaps their sultriest here. This song also contains one of the best lines on the entire album: “You kind of smell like sin”. (Your rascally writer really needs to stop drinking because he has no memory of when Oliver got close enough to smell him.)
It’s followed by “Drag Your Angel Up” which by your crusty chronicler’s revelatory reckoning reveals a potential Catholic upbringing in Oliver’s past beyond its specific story and one of the best cuts on here. The next number is “Candy Dish”. This also has some nice lyrical moments in the midst of a tuneful tale of melancholy.
“How Long Intro” is just what it says. It’s not really a track in itself. It’s simply a false start that Oliver—who appears to have a sense of humor—probably insisted the producer keep on the work. It literally leads into the song itself, “How Long”, includes a blues guitar intro by her producer Jutz. It certainly adds some variety to the disc.
“All The More” seems to be written to a friend in need. It includes a heartfelt, kind message. It is followed by “Happy Hour” and “Cry On My Shoulder” which further demonstrate Oliver’s abilities as an artist.
“Heartbreak In Progress” and “Be With You” are two more cuts having to do with imperfect relationships or perhaps relationships that once worked but does so no longer. “June Is Leaving” is also a troublesome tune in which Oliver considers the common with her own uncommon perspective.
Oliver, who recently was part of the 2011 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist Showcase, closes the disc with another highlight, “Baby Don’t Speak”, which is a playfully flirtatious imperfect relationship song. It was even recently chosen for inclusion on the new compilation CD Love Is In The Air! 2nd Annual Valentine's Day Sampler.
While some have noted that Oliver’s point of view is often very much that of her gender, the work includes memorable music and deeply personal lyrics that anyone can appreciate regardless of any potential feminist viewpoint deep within the work. Indeed, the current album reveals a bit more life experience compared to the previous release.
Oliver’s material demonstrates growth as perhaps both an individual and an artist. Some of her music surely makes fans wonder why Oliver is not a big success “Right Now” and “How Long” until she is?
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.
KARYN OLIVER/Red Dress
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One of those down home gals that writes and sings with style and knows how to shake the Americana gr...One of those down home gals that writes and sings with style and knows how to shake the Americana groove, leaves her DC comfort zone to shake it up with a lot of contemporary Nashville looking for the chance to play some middle aged after hours stuff ( they don't stay up that late anymore). Right in the pocket throughout, Oliver probably sings from experience and is sure to touch the mid lifer with her wisdom that she's open to sharing. Tasty and tasteful, she might just be the grown up antidote to Taylor Swift.
Impressive Genre Defying Debut
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Karyn Oliver Hurricane 4 ½ out of 5 stars Impressive genre defying debut from Baltimore singe...Karyn Oliver
4 ½ out of 5 stars
Impressive genre defying debut from Baltimore singer-songwriter
From the sensual saxophone intro to the first track America it’s clear that this record is something special. The lyrics to this opener echo the pain of seeing the world’s richest nation failing to live up to the standards expected by its citizens and the backing wails in sympathy carried along by Karyn’s plaintive ‘Oh, America, Where are you now?’
The mood lightens with the Countrified Flutterby, warning against the dangers of first love. As with all the tracks the backing for this is superb with some great guitaring from husband, Matt Lehr. The next track, Nothing To Remember is the killer track of the whole CD. This is a lovely, sad love ballad, recalling Mary-Chapin Carpenter at her best, over a Tex-Mex feel underpinned by David Zee’s melodica.
A straight up rocker next with No Rest. There is a tendency on a debut album to try to showcase all the aspects of your talent and given that this is your big chance is understandable and no bad thing. Unfortunately, it can tend to lead to a slightly uneven feel to the album as a whole which is why this feed-back fuelled rock‘n’roll, although excellently done, feels like it belongs on a different CD. This feeling is amplified by the following track the excellent Morning sung totally unaccompanied. It’s clear from this track and others throughout the CD that Karyn Oliver has a terrific, soulful voice that is shown to great effect in the title track Hurricane which follows.
The album really hits a groove with the upbeat I’m Still Here, again with some great guitar. I’m assuming that the next track, St Mary’s, is autobiographical detailing the awfulness of being taught by nuns and how the experience still haunts her. This seems like a good point to point out the sheer quality of the song writing. All the songs are written by Karyn Oliver and move from ballads to rockers without any drop in quality. The lyrics are intelligent and often poignant. As stated above it is clear this debut is designed to show the breadth of Karyn’s songwriting talents as well as her vocal skills. We therefore next get the cool funk of The Rain followed by the alt.country sound of Baynesville and Missing (Come Back to Me). Last up we have an emotional unaccompanied Cold Water’s Fire.
This is an exceptional debut by a very talented singer and songwriter backed by a truly sympathetic group of musicians. My only quibble would be that it tries a bit too hard to be a showcase for all the aspects of Oliver’s abilities but with this amount of talent on show it’s a small point. I think that once Karyn decides the direction of her music then she has the capacity to follow this through to enormous success. KM
Bob Sima Hosts a new series in Canton
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Her array of musical styles ranges from throbbing rock with a feminine tease to pure, silky love ...Her array of musical
styles ranges from throbbing rock
with a feminine tease to pure, silky
love songs that will shatter your
heart. She displays a vocal versatility
in her mix of blues and rock, accompanied
by soft emotion. - Lindsay Stroh
"...she has a fabulous voice..."
Review of BSA Songs From Our Circle 4
"the strongest four tracks in my opinion are...the punk-like 'Isn't it Funny' by Karyn Oliver..."
BSA Songs From Our Circle, Four
"Among the highlights are....Karyn Oliver's careening "Isn't It Funny",..."
There is no "typical" repertoire - it depends on the venue and the audience. Oliver can play everything from a three-song solo acoustic set to 3 hours with a full band. The sets are generally comprised of original material, but she does perform a cover song if she thinks she can bring something fresh to it.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.