Karli Fairbanks
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Karli Fairbanks


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"KARLI FAIRBANKS - Bitter Blue (self-released LOCAL)"

One of Spokane's most sure-fire sources of musical talent as of late is its singer/songwriters. And in particular, the females. Without an ounce of sexism at play, mere coincidence, it must be said that the ladies in this town are really excelling. Be it Kaylee Cole and her piano, Kori Henderson and her guitar, or Karli Fairbanks and her myriad instruments, a good thing is at play. "Whiskey Flowers" and "The Same Book" (available for preview on Fairbanks' MySpace page) are great recorded representations of this trend. On Bitter Blue, Fairbanks is nearly perfect, and in turn produces one of Spokane's most promising albums in quite some time. - Out There Monthly

"A Long Lonesome Road"

When Karli Fairbanks plays a waltz, people weep. "Bitter Blue" — the song that lends its name to her forthcoming album — has set strangers to crying more than once. She's surprised by this, but also pleased. "I've made three people I don't know cry," she says, smiling. "They respond to it really well."

The song is a churning, fuzzy-guitared metaphor for leaving comfort and ease for the open, uncertain waters of personal growth:

Away from the mountains / I'll flow like the river / out to the sea. Taking these traps and / the vices I live by / out to the sea. / ...under the dark canopy / I can see / the dull lights, they flicker and wander / out in the bitter blue sea.

It's tortured and lonely and gorgeous, the light delay on her strong, hushed voice melting into the guitar's considerable reverb. There's a tinge of hope in the words, but it's a dim, far-off thing obscured by alienation. Painted as Fairbanks does, straying into the sea takes willpower. Staying takes faith. It's a subtle admission of belief that interlaces much of the album.

Fairbanks shies from the "Christian artist" label, though it doesn't surprise her when people notice it in her imagery. "If you believe deeply, it will show through in everything you do," she says, whether or not you invoke holy names.

Despite the persistent sadness of In a Bitter Blue, Fairbanks doesn't believe she's an ascetic merely waiting out this life for the next. "I have the perspective that, though there are really great things to do — I have a great life — I just have the hope that there's something better," she says. "You see the suffering in the world and you have to."

The hope isn't always bright and up front. Even when it's distant and dull and flickering, though, Fairbanks' hopefulness persists.

With the exception of her brother Zac Fairbanks playing guitar and drums on "Whiskey Flowers," Caroline Fowler lending haunting, childlike backing vocals to "Tie Me Up," and Scott Ellis' steel guitar adorning three tracks, In a Bitter Blue is Fairbanks' alone. With songs dating to mid-2006, Fairbanks has been patiently, painstakingly writing, composing and recording. Though it certainly would have been easier to employ any number of friends from the Empyrean cabal to help the process along, schedule conflicts and spare funds pushed her to do most of the work herself (enlisting the help of Brian Bogue to record the title track). In hindsight, she's glad she did so much herself. "The songwriting process is lonely. You do everything by yourself," she says. "So to record an album of songs you've written alone is more meaningful."

For the record release, though, she'll be among friends, fronting a band of six (Cole, Zac Fairbanks and Fowler along with Joel Smith, Nick Tibbitts and Will Haworthe). Where most of her live performances won't have the depth of instrumentation that In a Bitter Blue has, the Empyrean date will lack only the steel guitar that wends a dulcet plaint through three of the album's tracks.

Fairbanks affects emotions powerfully when she's alone with an acoustic guitar in a small room of strangers. It isn't clear if the same will be true when she's backed by glockenspiel and piano and banjo and accordion. The experience of hearing her elegant wail lift above Smith's ambling banjo and Tibbitts' steady drum rhythms during a practice session last week, though, was damn near religious.

-Luke Baumgarten
- The Inlander


Karli Fairbanks and Friends EP - April 2007
Bitter Blue LP - October 2007
April Tour EP - April 2007
Tour of June EP - June 2007

New EP and full length currently being recorded in Seattle, WA at VU.Recording. Release of EP will be November 2008. LP release TBA.

Tracks from Bitter Blue can be heard on Spokane local stations weekly, some local airplay in Portland and Seattle as well.



Hope. Melancholy. Whiskey. On her latest self-produced release, Bitter Blue, Karli Fairbanks sings with a wisdom and insight belying her relatively tender age. Only 21 and already one of the most promising performers in Spokane, Washington's vibrant singer-songwriter scene, Fairbanks draws unmatched crowds with her mix of haunting melodies and alt-country edge. A hard-working multi-instrumentalist who has shared bills with such luminaries and up-and-comers as Josh Ritter, Nick Jaina, Norfolk & Western, Johanna Kunin, Tiny Vipers, Weinland, The Beautiful Clarks, Bill Mallonee and Julie Lee - and has been recognized for her excellence by Northwest media outlets - Fairbanks combines her haunting voice with a twang sensibility that has fans of Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin and Feist taking notice.