Kathy Muir
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Kathy Muir

Edinburgh, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Edinburgh, United Kingdom | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Americana Adult Contemporary




"An Interview with Kathy Muir"

Following the release of her new album Second Life, which we reviewed back in October, we caught up with songwriting extraordinaire Kathy Muir to find out a little more about her creative process and the array of music she’s written and released over the past twelve months. Here’s how it went.

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Can you tell us a little about the whole Second Life concept – what does the term mean to you, and was this an ongoing, slowly developing idea for the album, or was there a certain point at which the thought appeared and it just seemed to fit?

I would say it is a mix of both.

The first album Far from Entirely was the beginning of my recording aspirations and this title seemed fitting. Far from Entirely could be a real place or it could be a state of mind for which you have yet to reach your end destination. That’s how I felt about my music. I had so much material from over the years that I’d never recorded, so the first album was the beginning of that recording journey.

Book Cover Judge was a continuation of that journey. The old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ was something I felt strongly about, especially when musicians are so often forced to try to categorize their music. The album title was a reminder to use your ears not your eyes.

Second Life cemented the essence of this journey: I felt home, I felt well in my creative skin and was finally comfortable accepting that my writing songs in various styles didn’t mean I was trying to be a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none but rather I was embracing who I was as a songwriter and expressing that identity with absolute freedom and conviction. I also felt with each new song I was writing that the title of the album was still relevant. Poignantly, the actual song Second Life was written for a young boy who was trying to make a change in his life and didn’t know how to. My song was a message to him and a hopeful support.

When you wrote and released Like Warriors, did you know that it would feature on this particular album, and did you already have the album name in place at that point?

When I wrote Like Warriors – I think it was early November last year–I knew I wanted to release it as a single in December. That was around the same time that I decided to delay the launch of the six-track EP until February or so. Knowing how quickly I write songs, by the time February came around, the EP had become my third album Second Life. Like Warriors was indeed released as a single and then re-mastered for the album (as was Born By The Water).

This video chat was shot the same day I visited the local Oxgangs library to get photos from residents and the same day we caught on camera Harry and I doing four unplugged songs. (The second time in three years we’ve been in the same room together playing.)

Did you write each of these songs for this particular project, or did you choose from a larger list of possibilities and build the collection from there? Are there songs that didn’t make the final cut, and will people be able to hear those at some point in the future?

I tend not to write songs for particular albums. Even while recording songs for the album we were in the studio recording other material. When we completed the last song for the Second Life album, we also had two other projects on the go. Even as we speak, I’m working on my fourth album, which will be called Double Take as a nod to those double A-side singles released in the ’60s and ’70s. There will be five songs with both a pop and an acoustic version. After all, most of my songs are written on acoustic guitar and I’ve always believed that a good song is one that, when stripped bare, still engages the listener.

We’re three quarters of the way through the recording process for Double Take but I’ve been writing other songs that I really wanted to record. So, Pocketful of Sand, Try Coming Round, Morning Song, You Never Knew Me, and Perfect Day, are all songs either completed or close to completion in the studio that will not be on the fourth album.

All songs make the cut. I don’t waste time and money going into the studio unless the song is going to be released. All my songs are eventually released to the public. None are held back. That’s the joy of being an independent musician. The songs are released in various states: some as part of the Rough Diamonds playlist on my website or on Soundcloud. The Rough Diamonds Sessions contain songs that are yet to be polished in the studio.

To be honest, I think my constant challenge is not if I release material but when. For example, I’d like Try Coming Round and You Never Knew Me to be part of a set containing three or four songs that feel indie, stripped-down, high in reverb, and atmospheric. I’ve just finished completing a home demo for another song called River Running that will be a great addition to this concept EP. No title yet. Answers on a postcard…

Click through to read Kathy’s blog for a more in-depth analysis of her creative process.

How much of your time is spent writing and recording music, whether for release or for personal recreation, and how much of it is spent performing and sharing it with audiences? How does the live experience compare to when you first create the song at home?

Of all the time I dedicate to music, the majority of it is definitely spent on writing, then recording, then performing. The reason for the order is that I think of myself as a songwriter first, a singer second, and a guitar player third. I never stop writing and find on most days I’m singing sound bytes onto my iPhone or writing down words in my notebook. Certain song ideas take shape really quickly and I’m then forced to open Logic Pro and put down the vocals and guitars as well as any ideas for strings, bass or drums. This was actually the case for River Running.

Do you think live music is still as important now that most music is discovered and shared digitally?

It’s a double-edged sword. We all seek a global awareness of our songs yet are not well enough known to afford to travel far and wide to perform them. So we play locally. Although Connecticut is considered small in comparison to other states, you still have musicians who will travel two hours to do a gig that may have a small audience or that does not pay. Combine that with the fact that many places are swayed more toward cover bands and you find the opportunity to play live and raise awareness of your music becomes limited. Moreover, if you want to play in places that do recognize original music, you can be asked to bring at least twenty people to attend.

However, it’s not all bad news. I do play live. I enjoy this real litmus test that gives you a sense as to whether the audience likes your material or not, and it’s so worthwhile to get feedback, engage with folks after the show or even get to talk a little in between songs about what the songs are about.

I think today’s musicians need to provide a mix of both live performance and of ensuring they are social media-present. I love writing, period. I like writing about other artists (visual artists mainly) and especially love to write about the creative process. For the latter, my website is my second home and I get excited when I get to share what I do on my site.

Which of the songs on the new project affect you the most emotionally, when performing them or listening back? Do they all have a personal connection to you, or are there some that are simply songs to tell stories or to reach out to people in a more general way – using the music to connect, the sound to evoke feeling, as opposed to purely for expression?

There are actually a good few on Second Life that I strongly relate to. I Want to Lay Down was written last summer. I would go out on my 18th story balcony and play the song while watching the sun go down and hear the kids and their families in the communal courtyard down below, squealing and having fun (the kids I mean - Stereo Stickman

"Second Life is all killer, no filler, and a sure candidate for album of the year."

The third full length album from Scottish born singer/songwriter Kathy Muir, Second Life, is an eleven song collection that continues in her tradition of bringing together elements of traditional American music, particularly its vocabulary, with influences from Scottish music history. This isn’t an academic exercise. While Muir clearly writes material personal and important to her, she has the pronounced skills of a mainstream popular songwriter and a number of the album’s tracks operate in a pure pop vein. The presence of violin throughout the track listing gives the songs a decidedly rustic and appealing quality. Many of the songs are distinctly modern despite their traditional trappings while those embracing bygone sounds do so without being crassly imitative.

The first truly signature track on Second Life is the second song “Better Man”. It’s a song that unfolds the way a good short story does – providing listeners with the incidents and context for its character’s lives within a condensed amount of space and making excellent use of melody. “Simply That” steps back from the high pop style heard on the album’s first two tracks in favor of a much more spartan, bluesy rendition that Muir takes control of from the first and dominates with her personality. The turn on “Honey Child” is straight out of the pop song handbook, but the acoustic guitar work removes some of the poppier aspects. The sincerity of the song is unmistakable, but it’s never so sentimental as to be rendered sickly sweet. “Stop Messin’ Me Around” has crackling electricity surrounding it – the song’s live feel helps it take off straight out of the gate and it never pulls back at any point. Muir is firmly in control throughout thanks to assertive vocals more than capable of keeping up with the musical backing.

“Born by the Water” chugs with a straight-ahead purpose and lyrics filled with terrifically evocative imagery. Muir’s ability to convey that imagery never lacks subtlety and conviction alike – she never forces things too much, but there’s no question that she’s with every single word. The spartan qualities of “Simply That” return on “Never Felt Like a Woman”, but without any of the blues idiosyncrasies of the earlier song and it gives Muir ample space to fill the song with her passionate vocal. “Like Warriors” recalls the traditional songs of Muir’s youth crossed with elements of Americana music. The tempo gives it a slightly cinematic feel and the backing harmony vocals give it an added ethereal quality. The sweeping piano lines of “Troubled Town” pair up nicely with Muir’s impassioned vocals. Second Life ends with a magnificent title song that moves with deliberate, stately grandeur completely different from the earlier songs and invested with a completely different amplitude of drama. It wraps the album up quite artfully and gives it a memorable conclusion that lingers in the consciousness long after the final note dies out. Second Life is all killer, no filler, and a sure candidate for album of the year. - William Elgin III, Gashouse Radio

"Second Life: '...few performers today, in any genre, with this breadth of skill'"

It isn’t uncommon for a band or individual artist to hit their first peak on their third album. The first two releases allow them time and chances to refine and deepen their vision in preparation for a third release where they tie the disparate threads together into a greater whole. With the release of her third full length album, Second Life, that moment has arrived for Kathy Muir. There’s a lot of traditional instrumentation on Second Life that smacks of the Americana genre, but it isn’t the only ingredient in her mix. Some of the songwriting has strong echoes of Muir’s Scottish ancestry, but there’s a broader based folk approach on those songs that is much more individual and less focused on re-creating a specific era.

“Better Man” is the album’s first stand out. It is simply unlikely anyone else could have written this song – Muir’s specific details and powerful narrative voice are highly individual gifts that even another gifted writer couldn’t have precisely duplicated. This is the spark of the special we listen and look for in new art. Muir isn’t singing about anything startlingly new, but she sings it from a profoundly personal place within. “Simply That” gives her a great vehicle to show off her blues chops. It doesn’t rely on a bevy of genre tropes from guitar or singer alike to be successful; instead, Muir and her musical cohorts get the feeling right without ever sounding imitative once. She comes thrillingly close to outright rockabilly on the track “Stop Messin’ Me Around” but there’s an arty edge that Muir returns you’d never locate in traditional rockabilly. Her vocal sounds ready to love, live, brawl, and gives the song an added spike in energy.

“Born by the Water” isn’t blues or rockabilly flavored, but it does have the same gritty energy defining those earlier songs. The music here is much more straight forward, less obviously stylish, but the lyrics are far more developed and full of imagery that Muir largely eschews in those earlier songs. The slow development of “Never Felt like a Woman” is one of the album’s overall highpoints and a definite achievement on the album’s second half. Muir’s vocal matches consideration and passion quite well and the technique required further enhance the song’s impact. Her cultural heritage definitely touches the song “Like Warriors” and the stately, windswept tempo of the track has a touch of the epic hard for any listener to deny. Those sorts of songs, however, do nothing to prepare Muir’s audience for the sheer inventiveness of the final track. The title song makes a number of shrewd decisions ensuring its artistic success. The first is placing Muir’s deeply affecting wail near the front of the mix and giving the classical backing enough sonic density to help carry her vocal. It’s a remarkable final moment and closes Second Life on a daring note.

There are few performers working today, in any genre, with this breadth of skill. Kathy Muir recalls the epochal talents of iconic performers brought back to life for our modern world. The sophistication, deliberate simplicity, and absolute honesty guiding this collection of songs are an unforgettable listening experience. - Joshua Stryde, Indiemunity

"Second Life: 'Depth of songwriting talents beyond the merely musical'"

The real beauty in an album like Kathy Muir’s Second Life is heard in the chances it takes. It might seem like an odd thing to say for an album and artist solidly classified as Americana, but Muir doesn’t always play it safe and that’s a quality setting her some distance apart from many of her contemporaries. The depth of her songwriting talents extends beyond the merely musical – Muir’s skill level as a lyricist is extraordinarily high and each of the album’s eleven tracks is touched in some significant way by her talents in that area. She’s a judicious writer as well as musician – there are no needless musical or verbal pyrotechnics on this album and every single part is functional rather than ornamental. The single biggest influence on the album is likely its most understated – the influence of Scottish traditional music on Muir’s particular interpretation of Americana.

The knowing, skeptical air imbuing much of that type of music comes through in the opener “Lucky One”. Some of the lines turning on surprisingly caustic sentiments while others are clearly alight with regret and pain. Muir completely embodies both turns with a sure sense of confidence and her voice is perfectly tailored to the backing track. She hits an even higher mark with “Better Man” thanks to the wrenching family drama it depicts and the emotion coursing through Muir’s voice. The particular details working within the lyric help make it an even stronger experience for listeners. “Stop Messin’ Me Around” is a romping nod to Muir’s love of traditional rockabilly, but this is too stylish and technically accomplished to be considered much more than a nod. It has a high energy level, however – probably more so than any other track on Second Life.

The folky in Muir comes to the fore on the song “I Want to Lay Down”. Wags might assume the title is a reference to Muir’s need for rest, but it’s actually one of a few love songs on Second Life that are notable for their gentleness and exceptional artisanship. The feel of the song does a great job of recalling the folk song tradition and its separate sections hang together quite tightly while still breathing quite well. The plonking urgency of “Born by the Water” could have easily went in much more predictable bluesy direction, but it’s own particular take on the folk music tradition depends largely on its exceptional lyric to carry the day. A final high point on Second Life comes with the song “Never Felt Like a Woman”. Her unadorned honesty, almost painful to hear, fills the song with deep pathos that earlier numbers lack. The album’s concluding song and title cut is a grandiose, but never self-indulgent, marriage of Muir’s confessional songwriting, open-hearted vocals, and a classical backing. It ends Second Life on an intensely hopeful note and with an eye to an ever wider future. Kathy Muir is a major talent who’s star only continues to ascend through the firmament of modern life. - Scott Wigley, Bandblurb

"Second Life - 'not a single song falls short'"

The work on Kathy Muir’s first two albums has lead her here. Her third release Second Life is the summit of her accomplishment thus far and improves over her two fine past releases. If there’s any remaining justice in the modern music world, the merits of this effort should catapult her out of the indie scene and onto a much larger stage than she’s occupied so far. Muir’s approach is a blend of different influences and happily difficult to categorize. She’s certainly an advanced lyricist, a writer capable of exploring serious themes and narratives without ever overwriting. The same principle extends to her musical talents. The songs are crafted with an idea that they should do their job with the audience and get out with a minimum amount of fuss and not a single song falls short of that goal.

The first song assured to grab listener’s attention is “Better Man”. In some ways, the subject matter is rather familiar to anyone who listens to a lot of serious songwriters, but Muir spins it in a different direction. Much of the responsibility for that comes from her skill with characterizations – both central figures in this song emerge full-bodied from the song with the same level of significant detail one expects to find in a fine short story. “Stop Messin’ Me Around” is definitely a throwback number that does a fine job approximating a rockabilly attitude, but it is certainly much more lyrically sophisticated than the typical efforts in this vein while still remain great, raucous musical fun. She pulls everything close for the tender turn she takes with “I Want To Lay Down” and the plaintive wanting of the title is reflected in the lyrics. This is quite a beautifully wrought and patient song.

“Born by the Water” is certainly a little less sophisticated musically than what Muir has, to this point, spoiled us for, but it becomes clear soon enough that the primary focus here is lyrical rather than musical. Muir unleashes some poetic fireworks here, but they are decidedly low-key and never unnecessarily gaudy. There are a variety of interpretations and Muir’s playful vocal certainly seems to relish not entirely spelling things out for her listeners. She comes close to the blues with the immensely stylish and witheringly honest “Never Felt Like a Woman” – it will be difficult for anyone to not be impressed by the equal parts technique and sincerity required to make this song such a success. The contemplative and yet very proud “Like Warriors” harkens back to Muir’s folkie roots – it’s a nice interlude from the more frequent bouts of Sturm and Drang on the album’s second half. The closer, “Second Life”, is a title song very much from the school of making big statements. Fortunately, it highlights a forward looking vision for her life, and by extension her art, while never disavowing the experiences bringing her to where she is today. This sort of remarkable maturity and wisdom defines Second Life personally and artistically. - Aaron Ellis, Valhalla Music Blog

"Second Life - 'more than a few moments of masterful songwriting'"

It’s a great pleasure to hear something fresh from Kathy Muir in such great quantity. This album slams into action in the best possible way. Arrangement is important, in both songwriting and when putting together the final choices in the final order. Lucky One is the perfect way to begin. The rhythm of that acoustic guitar has a hypnotic and energizing effect. Instrumentally mixed to a flawless level, everything sits wonderfully as you listen, and there’s an instant certainty of the quality of the songs, the performances, and the production that will follow as you progress through the album.

Better Man steps forwards next and reminds you a little of the classic Kathy Muir sound from earlier projects. The acoustic guitar creates a softness and lets you really focus in on the song. This one also tips it’s hat to House Of The Rising Sun, which is a welcome and enjoyable surprise during the second half of the track.

Simply That is another moment that really helps highlight how effective an album can be when the songs are arranged in a way that contrasts and compliments those surrounding it. This song drops back even further, a huge vocal performance for the singer, a massive moment of music that feels like it has much more going on than just a voice and a guitar. You can almost hear the big band backing it all up in your mind. The feeling of openness really comes through at this point, the vulnerability of the voice in such a minimal setting, combined with the honesty in the lines, the passion within the reaching for and holding of notes – it has the strength of a classic jazz & soul ballad, and it works really well within the context of the whole collection.

The album on the whole gives off a warm and calming sort of atmosphere. It’s an array of folk songs with a pop-production polish that you can consistently rely upon to fill the room with beautiful and enjoyable music. Honey Child is a moment of melodic bliss and conjures up pleasant memories of The Pretenders or even The Corrs at times. Then you get Stop Messin’ Me Around, which throws you into a funk driven and jazz drenched whirlpool of rhythm and good vibes. The song has a sense of independence to it, the theme is of the ultimatum, the end of being treated poorly, and the music reflects this independence and this attitude superbly. In a way, it fills you with self confidence as you listen, and that’s a great thing to hand over to an audience.

Kathy Muir, Second Life, Album Review, Music Review, Independent Music Blog,

There are more than a few moments of masterful songwriting on this album, and although I’d always stress the value of the album as a whole, as an entity, most of the songs could capture your attention in their own right. I Want To Lay Down is no exception, it bears listening to more than once or twice to really soak it up, and then Born By The Water, immediately afterwards, showcases an impressive fusion of rhythmic energy and calm, reflective, peaceful imagery. The rhythm is fantastic, these more upbeat moments appear every now and then on this album – the result of which is a really effective playlist with just about everything you could hope for in an evening’s listening.

The album Second Life also includes the beautiful song Like Warriors, which I reviewed back in January, and was in fact the very first Kathy Muir song I ever heard. It was said then, and it still stands now; you really won’t find a bad song by Kathy Muir. The variation within this latest project keeps it captivating and interesting at all times, and the warmth of the songwriting and the sound of her performance holds everything just where it needs to be in order to really reach and affect you.

As things come towards their close, the beautiful, jazz infused softness and emotion of Troubled Town pours over you. This song is an incredibly mellow piano ballad with a real touch of soul. The song seems to flicker between the sorrowful and the joyful, the verses appear right there in the moment with you, doused in a happy sort of sound, and the same goes for the initial hook. The middle 8, however, seems to reflect something a little further away – a distant shadow of difficulty, perhaps. What’s also interesting about this song is that you really can’t see that middle 8 section coming; the song would work just fine as a jazz performance – veering off in whichever direction it pleases, as jazz does – but this added section really mixes things up. It reminds you to listen, to think, and shows you again the creative and compelling way in which Kathy Muir writes and structures her songs. It’s also yet another stunning vocal performance, a minimalist piece of music, but with great power.

What follows is the album’s title track Second Life, which opens with an unexpected and rather jaw dropping a Capella performance with simple yet effective harmonies. It provides an overwhelming and captivating sense of truth and reflection – advice, ideas – a summary, in a way, of what’s been learned. A warm layer of strings reinforce the strength of these final musical moments, but what drives it is how believable and genuine the performance sounds, and it’s one that is likely to leave you feeling like you’ve really just experienced an album of great personal depth. And then, when it’s all over, you get to head back and listen to Lucky One all over again, and re-start the whole experience from scratch – this time with a little knowledge of the lyrics and the melodies to soar along with.

It’s a really strong collection, thoughtfully and skillfully put together, and a great record to relax to at the end of a long day. Listen to the album in full below, or head over to Spotify, iTunes, or Kathy’s Website to listen to and download the tracks. Find and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube to stay updated. You can also visit the artist’s Photography Website for further artistic endeavors. - Stereo Stickman

"Second Life: 'Muir delivers another mesmerizing vocal'"

Scottish-born singer/songwriter Kathy Muir’s third album, Second Life, likely represents her peak to this point. Each successive release since her debut has built off its predecessor’s advances and this eleven song collection stands as the fullest realization of her songwriting vision yet. Each of the songs has an identifiable signature – the curiosity with shifting tempos for dramatic effect, the smoky ambiance Muir capably invests some of her lyrics in, and the flexibility to convincingly perform from a variety of temperaments. Muir’s music typically gets lumped into the Americana genre. It is true that she utilizes a lot of traditional instrumentation and certainly displays more than a passing familiarity with the tropes of popular song, Muir music has a bluesy rock and roll heart beating just below the surface of some of these songs. The production highlights her in a memorable fashion and captures her collaborators with all of the balance and vivid clarity they deserve.

URL: http://www.kathymuir.com/

Second Life begins with the song “Lucky One”. The arrangement is tastefully inventive – it builds from an acoustic opening into a striding folk-rocker and also features a number of brief tempo shifts along the way that will jolt listeners to attention. The lyrics have more than one layer and resist specific interpretation. It’s all the better for it. “Better Man” builds in a similar fashion and will musically satisfy anyone who enjoyed the opener. The lyrical content has a much more specific, narrative oriented slant than before – Muir’s songwriting excels dissecting the vagaries of male/female relationships without ever pandering to listener’s preconceptions about such material. The key to that is the plain-spoken poetic quality of her lyrics. She conjures a bluesy spirit on “Simply That” and, unlike the earlier songs, it maintains an acoustic approach throughout. The lack of a full band arrangement affords Muir an opportunity to stretch out vocally and she responds with some soulful pyrotechnics that mark a highlight of the album.

“I Want To Lay Down” soars largely on the basis of a beautiful violin playing that carries the main melody. Muir’s voice works as a counterpoint of sorts for that central instrumental figure and delivers another mesmerizing vocal. The pleasing straight forward quality of the music and vocal melody on “Born by the Water” is perfect for getting its outstanding and often poetic lyrics over with listeners, but Muir can’t resist tweaking her listeners’ ears with a few unexpected minor twists. Exceptional lyrics help “Never Felt Like a Woman” stand above the pack and Muir navigates the words with confidence and deep feeling. There’s a slightly exotic quality to the melody, but Muir never exaggerates it.

The penultimate song and piano ballad “Troubled Town” might remind some of a much less pretentious Tori Amos, but Muir firmly crouches her language in the vernacular of Americana, particularly blues, music. The title song finishes the album with a lyric that seems to reference the preceding song some and begins with Muir’s acapella vocal. This is the crowning achievement – the spectacularly colorful yet unobtrusively presented classical background gives Muir a dream-like staging for her vocal. Second Life is the sound of an artist hitting her stride and deserves the widest possible audience.

9 out of 10 stars.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/second-life/id1154571530

Jason Hillenburg - Jason Hillenburg, Skopemag

"Second Life "Stunningly complete and beautiful""

The stunningly complete and beautiful third album from Scottish born singer/songwriter Kathy Muir is a cause for celebration. Second Life is an eleven song collection concentrating primarily on relationships, but it isn’t strictly a downbeat affair. Muir explores a full range of human emotions connected with the experience of sharing our lives with other people and her songwriting abilities enable her to create ideal sonic landscapes for exploring these themes. She has surrounded herself with a first class assembly of collaborators who help elevate the drama far above the mundane. Not all of the songs adhere to a strictly Americana label – instead, some utilize pop and rock song dynamics with unexpected musical approaches. The primary thrust of the album is acoustic, but there’s a rowdy spirit in some songs that undercuts the laid back feeling pervading the album as a whole.

Some of that rowdy spirit comes through on the first two tracks. “Lucky One” and “Better Man” both start out as muted acoustic based numbers but gradually build a head of steam before transforming into full blown band numbers by the second half of the song. The gradual mounting of tension on both tracks is handled with great patience and good instincts “Simply That” finds Muir moving backwards by design and serving up the album’s purest example of blues with a stripped back, essentials-only feel. She responds to the musical change of mood with her own shift downgear and brings a lot of surprising, to some perhaps, gravitas to her singing. The lyrical content on the aforementioned songs is all quite superb, particularly “Better Man”.

“Stop Messin’ Me Around” revisits some of the album’s rowdy early spirit in a distinctly different package. The rockabilly thrust of the album is quite different from any preceding songs, but it isn’t a purist affair. Instead, it’s a retro nod with a strongly modern air and assertiveness that never becomes unduly aggressive or slips off the rails. “Born by the Water” features stunning lyrical imagery paired with a powerfully consistent, direct acoustic guitar attack. Muir’s voice, seemingly aware of the lyrical quality, sounds much more inspired here than her earlier fine performances and it helps make this track a less-than-obvious sleeper on the release.

The album’s second to last song, “Troubled Town”, is Muir at her most vulnerable. The song is nothing but her voice, words, and piano accompaniment. The songwriting and her singing must stand on their own more than ever before in this context both succeed spectacularly. “Troubled Town” has vividly written lyrical content that seems to focus on both the personal and a larger macro and the haunting music matching her on keys is perfectly tuned to the narrative mood. The album’s finale is a title song that hints at whole new directions possibly opening up for Muir. The union of classically themed backing with her vocals pays off nicely and creates a great deal of epic drama on Second Life’s final song. The lyrics also strike a strongly redemptive note that ends the album well.

9 out of 10 stars

Purchase Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/second-life/id1154571530

Charles Hatton
October 20, 2015 - Carlito's Music Blog

"Second Life - '...unity seldom heard in music these days, regardless of genre'"

It is refreshing to hear an album so committed to presenting fully rounded material. Kathy Muir’s third album Second Life doesn’t just succeed on a musical level, but it scores big on a lyrical level as well. Muir’s lyrics are full of plain-spoken poetry and exquisite imagery in equal measure and never aspire to any sort of pseudo-poetic incomprehensibility. The musical qualities are abundant. Melodies abound and the instrumentation is beautifully tasteful without ever missing opportunities. The production gives the music a great sonic forum to reach the listener and the urgency of its sound keeps the songwriting sounding intimate from first song to the final track. This is an improvement over her two preceding albums, but the observation is no slight on those earlier efforts. Second Life is just that damn good.

“Lucky One” has equal amounts of sarcasm and tenderness that Muir’s vocal communicates with a same balance of emotion. Her phrasing is perfect for the song while never overplaying its emotions. The arrangement is here to work in sympathy with the lyrics and singing performance. “Better Man” is the album’s first true high water mark. There’s something witheringly precise about Muir’s lyrical observations and she never flinches from the bitter realities of the situation. It is communicated with an utter lack of sentimentality. The rugged, high-stepping energy of “Stop Messin’ Me Around” cuts loose from the beginning and bristles with powerful velocity born from its live recording. Hearing Muir talk before the first notes begin is essential to the listening experience.

“I Want To Lay Down” is one of the most tender moments on Second Life and delivered without a hint of spoof or irony. Instead, Muir gives herself over entirely to the lyric and seems to be trying to capture a perfect, crystalline moment in song. She is successful. The unwavering march of “Born by the Water” has a lightly spiritual, meditative quality in its lyric and some compelling imagery to drive its points home. Muir gives the right amount of force to her vocal without ever allowing her personality to take over the performance. Another shade of that aforementioned meditative quality returns in the folk song “Like Warriors” and the lyric sparkles with enough fluency that many will likely remember it as among the album’s best. “Troubled Town” does a good job of mixing the personal with character study in a very spare track carried forward by nothing else except Muir’s voice and moody, but often very beautiful piano playing. The album’s last song is the title track and Muir makes another notable stylistic turn here. The song is relatively unadorned and, instead, relies on bringing a classical backing together with the bracing emotive qualities of her voice. The mix works extraordinarily well.

Muir shows real instincts as a storyteller ending the album on such a note. Second Life takes a spin through a variety of moods, but the track listing gives listeners a clear, if not entirely obvious, progression from the first song through the finish. This sort of unity is seldom heard in popular music these days, regardless of genre. Kathy Muir’s talent continues its blooming and burns brighter than ever here. - Montey Zike, Dahiphopplace

"Second Life - 'The lyrical content has exceptional literary value'"

Kathy Muir’s third album doesn’t find her negotiating her way through some major change in direction or style. Instead, Second Life is eleven songs of consolidation. The style she has established with her first two albums is further refined here and her singer/songwriter bonafides are burnished further by the obvious personal turn in the writing. Second Life’s production and songwriting also hints at a gradually broadening of Muir’s sound – the classification of Americana music is growing harder and harder for Muir’s releases to maintain and she seems to be subsuming a variety of styles into her sound. The lyrical content has exceptional literary value – each text is perfectly conceived and Muir expresses herself in words with the same lean vitality energizing her music.

“Lucky One” has a number of emotional stances and some underrated moments of bite. Muir’s vocal never becomes overwrought at any of these turns and she orchestrates the competing emotions with a sure hand. The song has the sort of steadily mounting tension we associate with rock tracks. This quality is present on the album’s second song as well. Muir cuts loose vocally a little more than before on “Better Man”, but it still avoids lapsing into anything melodramatic or purple. A big reason why such a moment never comes is thanks to Muir’s lyrics – few songs on Second Life embody her precise writing style better. Her warm, welcoming vocal on “Honey Child” has a practically hypnotic quality. It’s the depth of emotion that’s soothing and the guitar work complements it perfectly with a number of subtly lyrical runs. “Stop Messin’ Me Around” jumps with genuine live, musicians on the floor feel and the bluesy echoes fueling the track are a welcome shift at this point.

The violin and guitar arrangement of “Born by the Water” is deceptively simple, but it has flashes of ingenuity and one of the album’s best lyrics. Muir’s voice follows the emotional trajectory of the lyrics with an eye towards balancing her performance in perfect sympathy with the band’s playing. There’s a surprising rock and roll energy peering its way from below the acoustic musings of “Never Felt Like a Woman” and it might help make the track the album’s high point in many ways. There’s a very folky quality to “Like Warriors” that Muir makes the most of with a gloriously sweeping vocal full of feeling and the careful phrasing that brings her lyrics more to the fore. The title song concludes Second Life on quite a memorable note. Muir’s voice works exceptionally well with the song’s classical backing track despite the fact that the production clearly places a priority on her voice. It’s one of her best vocals, however, and the song’s lyrical turns are particularly affecting - Lydia Hillenburg, VENTS Magazine

"The Other Side - Review"

It’s no big secret that Kathy Muir is one of independent music’s most dedicated and hard working song writers, so it should come as no surprise that this latest release is just one of a multitude of new songs, plus an album, that will emerge over the coming weeks.

The Other Side is an important project in its own right. The song was initially written as a reaction to the Orlando shootings from earlier this year, but in essence, the track speaks out against the issue of intolerance across the world; it’s about equal rights, and working towards a better and more caring humanity.

“I needed to write it because I was angry at the incredible amount of prejudice and mass violence people experience. So often we feel anger and despair that we can forget that hope can create change and good can win over evil. It sounds clichéd but it can.” – Kathy Muir.

To begin with, it’s necessary to listen to the song as simply a song; music is something that transcends regular communication, and more often than not it must speak for itself, making it’s point without the help of side notes or margin markers. This is about all that needs to be said on the matter though. As is often the case with Kathy Muir’s music; the moment you press play, this calming connection between the notes chosen, the words expressed, and the tone of the voice with which it is all presented – it pours the sound over you in a way that immediately makes you feel the need to do nothing but simply listen.

The Other Side is no exception to this rule, and even so much as the opening flicker of that heavily reverb'd and dreamlike guitar has the power to shut out any external noise while you zone in and really soak up the music. The song that follows is every bit as poignant as the message it’s intending to convey.

As a songwriter, Kathy Muir is no stranger to the need to write about personal experiences and feelings; these are the things that so frequently connect us with the artists we adore. But in this case, the musician felt that sometimes it’s necessary to speak of things much bigger than ourselves, something I’d wholeheartedly agree with. Sometimes the only language we share, the only medium we pay attention to, is music. Certain things need to be said, and if they aren’t heard, or aren’t paid attention to, they need to be said again, and again, until everyone finally realizes that all life is of equal value.

What’s particularly good about this release is that while the song is quite openly a reference to particular events, the poetry of it is so beautifully inclusive of all audiences and emotional responses to pain. This is not a word for word account of something; it’s not a narrative, nor a descriptive accompaniment for unfair and unnecessary occurrences – it is quite simply a peaceful, artistic, and hopefully healing reaction to something that is consistently negative and damaging. The song is beautiful, thoughtfully written and softly performed, so that every feeling and thought is captured and expressed just right.

To show your support for the project you can grab your copy of The Other Side via Kathy Muir’s Website, or head over to iTunes (US) or iTunes (UK). You can also buy it through Amazon (US or UK) if preferred, or listen on Soundcloud. Head to Kathy Muir’s Artist Page for more music and features, and of course, follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay updated. - Stereo Stickman

"Kathy Muir - The Other Side"

Kathy Muir is a Scottish singer- songwriter based in Connecticut.

Her new independently released single “The Other Side” is a stunning poetical exploration of her beliefs on love, life and our connection with nature. Kathy is known for stunning song writing that is emotionally expressive and easy to connect with. She has a distinctive style that draws on influences from a variety of genres including pop, folk and jazz. Kathy really felt like releasing this track as soon as possible, but her third album is on the way: if “The Other Side” is an indication of what’s about to come, we are in for some truly high quality music.

In this beautiful song, Kathy’s emotionally vulnerable vocals and powerful message is expressed in a visceral and captivating way. The tunes deals with challenging issues such as intolerance and bias, but it comes from the perspective of love and understanding, rather than blame and shame.

Her voice is reminiscent of a young Stevie Nicks, with the same passionate vocals, and with an important message.

To listen to ‘The Other Side’ and listen to more of Kathy’s great music, visit:

http://www.kathymuir.com - Thebandcamodiaries

"Kathy Muir – Like Warriors"

Kathy Muir is an established and respected songwriter and musician based in the US, but hailing from Scotland’s very own Edinburgh. Her latest single Like Warriors was released at the end of December, along with a wonderful video to accompany it. Here’s why we think it’s such a great release.

Even before you’ve read the background story, it’s a song that almost immediately captures your heart. Incredibly stunning imagery in the opening verses, a beautifully played guitar, fantastic production that allows you to really turn it up loud and be surrounded by the music (the kind of track my in-ear Skull Candy headphones scream out for), and a gorgeously powerful yet calming voice.

The impact of the track hit more and more as it rolled along, but not for the usual reasons; there’s no build up of drums or unnecessary adding of instruments – the lyrics just stretch out around you, so you’re lost in the song, particularly when you listen with the video as accompaniment.

The story told is based on Muir’s experiences as a child – growing up in the high rise flats of Capelaw Court, in Oxgangs, Edinburgh, throughout the 1960s to 1970s. To make the accompanying visuals for Like Warriors as powerful as possible, Muir requested that fellow Oxgangs locals contact her with their own photographs and footage of life in the area during these times, to make it more of a community project; something that people could share, and something that stood for togetherness. After an overwhelmingly positive response; the stunning video came to be.

The most striking part of it all is perhaps the sad footage of the Stoney Building of Capelaw Court being demolished, which took place sometime in the 2000’s. Still, to me at least, the song represents the fact that though they may destroy the physical remnants of the past, they can’t take away the wonderful memories people share.

The true power of the song and video as a complete piece of art is inherently clear, even as someone who has never visited Oxgangs, I found myself soaked in my own thoughts of childhood life as I watched and listened..

“Climbing hills and scaling trees.. Hiding low while peering through the reeds.. Capturing bugs like they were beasts.. We helped each other reach horizon’s eye.. It made us feel like warriors.”

Brilliantly atmospheric and folk-like descriptions, yet with a soulful overall feel to the music; the style of playing, and the raspy, emotive vocals, aren’t as often found in classic folk music. It’s a simple combination of elements, but it creates a really refreshing dynamic.

Like Warriors really is a captivating track and video, loaded with nostalgia and emotion, and constructed with seemingly flawless musical skill. Well thought out, beautifully written, performed and created. But don’t just take our word for it. See for yourself. This is the official video; Like Warriors, by Kathy Muir..

As you probably know from reading our previous articles, what strings a track together for us most of all, more often than not, is the strength of the lyrics. It’s what sets those feelings of nostalgia and intrigue into motion, it’s what provokes those deep thoughts that allow you to escape as you listen, and it’s something you can tell is of importance to this particular songwriter – just from listening to her songs.

In reference to the Mean What You Sing article we published recently, Kathy Muir actually gave a really beautiful insight as to the true importance and effect of meaningful lyrics..

“For me personally, the intro to a song is like walking on a path that is leading you to a door. When the vocal starts, you’ve arrived at the door . If you like the tones, you want to unlock the door and walk in. But after that, it’s really down to the lyrics. Lyrics are everything: they’re what dress the room.”

It’s a great way of putting it, and I completely agree. In fact, on reading it, and in addition browsing through her wonderful Blog and back catalogue of music, an even clearer sense of connection seemed to appear. When you know a little more about a songwriter, you hear the words in a much more personal way, not to say that the honesty and pureness of the music wasn’t apparent initially, as it categorically was, but it really adds a whole other level to the magic when you know there’s a real person behind all of it.

“It is the words that truly represent our uniqueness, our personal expression, and hopefully a reaching out of hands for others to come and join the reverie.” – Kathy Muir.

A truly fantastic songwriter, not a single wasted word or note, and nothing even remotely dishonest – entirely believable, relatable, with beautiful imagery; a wonderful and original story teller, with a gloriously unique and soothing voice.

You can find Kathy Muir on Facebook, Soundcloud, and Twitter. Her Website has links to the music, Believe the Impossible is another one we highly recommend – a lighter and more upbeat side to the songwriter, still soaked in imagery and creativity, and over all a lovely and uplifting track. Head Down has a quality mellow rock vibe to it, some great harmonies, and a brilliantly big beat holding it all together.

In fact, if you head over to the Music section of her site, you can listen and learn about all of Kathy’s projects to date. You really won’t find a bad song by Kathy Muir. Well worth taking the time out to head over and listen. A magical collection of music. - Stereo Stickman

"Kathy Muir is not just one, but she is your three dimensional, acoustically powered, arts chic."

Kathy Muir’s album Book Cover Judge is a 12 track album that when purchased, comes with a booklet containing lyrics and samples of Kathy’s own photography. Her pop, jazz, and blues influences can be heard in her latest release which features the single “Keep On Walking,” and a second single as mentioned below. With lyrics communicative of pictures that speak 1000 words, the single “Keep On Walking” is a song that continues to shine light to the message that if you “Keep On Walking,” you will find a way. As Kathy sings… “I’m trying hard to find a way to get myself out of this place, that’s kept me down so long”.

The single “Seattle Mornin’,” released on November 2014 is a simple, acoustic and vocal piece, and its style is very similar the above mentioned second single on the album “Keep On Walking.” The lyrics are rather deep, and you’re left to create your own story behind this one.

The closing track, dedicated to John Geary is an almost Ghetto Gospel piece, especially with that choir and the sound of that keyboard in the introduction. There’s a lot of passion behind this piece and it shows. The choir backing and arrangement of the piece makes it great for an outro, and it’s a great dedication piece. Kathy’s music and her album Book Cover Judge is a soulful, acoustic type Americana with a crossover country, bluesy sound. Her music features Harry Whalley on Piano, orchestral arrangements and names like Kwame Henry Jones on “Keep On Walking.” It’s the perfect thing for a relaxing Saturday or Sunday afternoon by the fireplace or on a deck chair reading a book.
On a rather side note to the album…

The mention of pictures and art in her single “Keep On Walking” bought me back to thinking about her website that I’d visited briefly, and her logo. After some scrounging around of the internet of things, I ended up downloading the Kathy Muir Digital Booklet. On the booklet is says that “The “Kathy Muir” logo is a registered trademark of Kate Murray Limited.” This got me to thinking, and it may explain the logo and colour theme of her website. It appears there is a lot more to Kathy Muir than I’d first visualized. Kathy Muir is not just one, but she is your three dimensional, acoustically powered, arts chic. Kathy Muir is not only music, Kathy is art, and photography too.

Those artsy types, or anyone who enjoys art, music, photography, and/or loves getting out and about will surely enjoy this latest release from Kathy Muir. And as we’ve learnt, Kathy has more than just great music to offer her fans. If you have the time, go see if can catch Kathy, her music, and her photography at the Loft Artists Association’s 36 annual event in Stamford CT. Kathy Muir is Art | Nature | Creativity. Check out Kathy Muir’s Music here, and Kathy Muir’s Photography here.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/book-cover-judge/id968776738
URL: http://www.kathymuir.com/ - Penweb Tickets, Jeffrey Metherell

"Introducing Kathy Muir"

The greatest songwriters are seldom songwriters alone. Some are creative polymaths while others synthesize elements from an array of forms into a wider songwriting vision. Kathy Muir is more than a songwriter.

Her visual sense, a key element in much of her songwriting, likewise finds expression in her photography, but her muse never stops moving. Her deeply collaborative creative spirit has a proactive slant and much of her efforts are connected with others looking for embody the change in our world that they seek. Muir succinctly describes her vision for living saying that, while her “… pursuits may sound random, even disparate, but they can be summed up with three words: Art, Nature, Creativity”.

“Music is my main expression, yet when I’m arranging a song, I see it in terms of visual landscapes, literally. The landscape in my head helps to paint the right picture for the song. I guess I’ve become quite a visual person over the years and learned to use it as a tool. What with that and the use of my voice, I’m able to translate melodies and arrangements into other instrumental aspects of a song. The image on the canvas is only complete when all instruments find their place. It’s actually this visual overview that allows me to arrange my songs better. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words. And that would make a pretty long song".

Passion like this often knows humble beginnings. Muir’s creative journey begins at birth, but she discovered her vocation young while working as a waitress in a large Edinburgh hotel. She knew friends playing traditional Scottish folk music and, when her shift ended, often watched them and other local acts play live. The charge of live performance entranced Muir and convinced her to start learning guitar. Employment opportunities soon landed Muir in France, but not long after she arrived, a former co-worker sent her his guitar and encouraged her to continue pursuing the instrument. Muir redoubled her efforts over the next two years and progressed mightily as a player and songwriter.

Her creative process reveals much about the person behind the music. She draws from personal experience and imagination in varying degrees. The melodies come to her in dreams as threads she must tie together with chords and lyrics. It isn’t difficult to see how this method embodies the same aforementioned delicate synthesis driving her life. She has mastered an increasingly neglected art, purely organic songwriting, and while she might not be rolling around on the floor tortured for the right order of words like some poet of yore, each song on her new album carries the unmistakable air of a life well lived.

The music on Book Cover Judge reflects the loves of its creator. Muir’s yearning and charismatic vocals are singing from the center of every song and glide over the top of her guitar playing. The backing never interferes with one central value in Muir’s music – the intimacy conjured by the interplay between her voice and guitar. Those sorts of values inform her future – Muir and her works, inseparable, are constantly evolving works in progress. While pressings of her new album are still warm, Muir is nearing completion of a new four track EP of stripped-down material and future photography exhibitions while, in the fall, she plans to release a three track acoustic pop/dance EP.

In an increasingly desensitized world, Kathy Muir’s work and vision aches with sincerity and engagement. This is a human being committed to communicating, sharing joy and anguish alike, with the hope that her powerful songwriting informs our lives in a positive way. If you haven’t heard her but soon will, get ready to hear a combination of talent and empathy capable of putting you back on your heels.

Jason Hillenberg - Music Emissions

"Kathy Muir’s intent to build up her musical persona is accomplished"

Kathy Muir’s new album ‘Book Cover Judge’ aims to marry the singer’s nominal acoustic pop with influences from the world of jazz and blues. For an album emphasising the importance of aesthetics in its title, the surface level of the music holds an especially important place. If the audience is not to simply judge this book by its cover, then moving beyond the simple pop melodies and rock bass lines is required. Self-described as ‘sassy and up-beat,’ Muir’s lyrics never stray too left of centre, while the songs remain on the same straight and narrow track. At a first glimpse, the album offers little more than might be garnered from looking at the immediately obvious.

But that would be to do Muir a disservice. For all intents and purposes, the album appears to be a collection of standard songs sung in a standard fashion with a standard inflection. But after a few listens, the affectations and idiosyncrasies begin to move to the foreground. On third track, ‘Keep on Walking,’ the slight pauses and held up half seconds add a sense of trepidation to the singer’s desire to move incessantly forwards. With a double tracked vocal line, Muir’s hesitation adds an extra emotional dimension to a song seemingly about nothing other than a determined advancement. While first time listeners would be forgiven for skipping over these moments, they create the wealth of subtext the singer is aiming for.

The main expressive mode on the album is Muir’s voice. Where others might be content to warp and wrap their higher registers into twisted emotional knots, Muir’s voice never moves too far in either direction. Starting low, it has a rich timbre and an emotional weight lost to those who decide to skip up the semitones. Because of this, even the seemingly innocuous lyrics are tinged with an extra sense of experience. There’s a knowledge and an awareness in the voice which might be lacking in the voices of other singers.

In all, Kathy Muir’s intent to build up her musical persona is accomplished. Where some might look and see just a pop singer strumming an acoustic guitar, the album succeeds in placing these songs into a context that adds that elusive extra dimension to the work. Based on the title, it seems Muir is a self-confessed victim of this. Rather than judging on simple surface level information, however, her added introspection is fortified and she encourages the same in others, starting with the album itself.

Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Buy - Indiemunity, Huw Thomas

"Peaceful pop album with a sweet melancholic vibe"

Kathy Muir’s new album “Book Cover Judge”

URL: http://www.kathymuir.com/

Kathy’s love for music began when her mother started singing with the church choir. That spark only grew brighter and as years passed, she wanted to also join in the choir. Borrowing an old acoustic guitar from a friend, Kathy started to learn the secrets of the instrument. After playing with the choir, she discovered her personal style and started writing her own songs. Kathy Muir has a very unique and memorable voice and manages to weave in interesting jazz and blues influences. She sings without straining her voice at any moment and that contributes to the relaxing tone of “Book Cover Judge”. Kathy also has a passion for photography and managed to open a gallery, making this form of art more available to the public.

This twelve-piece album may not be extraordinary, but it is just the right background music for a nice cup of tea while reading a relaxing book on a rainy day. The songs are undeniably catchy, so prepare to suffer from an ear worm. “Book Cover Judge” is a peaceful pop album with a sweet melancholic vibe. Its positivity is really charging and the music itself has a certain intimacy. You feel close to Kathy and are absolutely sure all these songs are written and sung from her hearth. It’s easy to feel her love for her art and you have to be absolutely stonehearted not to love it too.

There are a couple of songs on “Book Cover Judge” that definitely deserve your special attention. “Always Forever” is one of those eerie innocent pieces that seem to instantly teleport your mind to a peaceful meadow with butterflies and a small bubbly creak. “You’re On My Mind” has that seductive and playful vibe that makes it stand out from the otherwise poppy sound of “Book Cover Judge”. Probably the liveliest song on the album is “Ride These Times” – a really likeable song that brings out thoughts of stuffy cowboy saloons. Pay special attention to “Softly” – a great piece, dedicated to John Geary. It starts with Beatles-like trumpets to transform to a beautiful ballad about supporting your friends through the hardest of times.

If you want to listen to Kathy Muir’s “Book Cover Judge”, make sure to visit her Bandcamp profile. If you enjoy her music support her by buying it! Check out her site for more information, music videos and her personal blog.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/kathymuir - Indie Artists Alliance, Christina Vukova

"Blues influence, topped off with a dusting of modern pop country"

Book Cover Judge was my first time hearing anything put out by the independent artist, Kathy Muir. Musically I would probably place it in the adult contemporary category, it has a lot of guitar pop influences, with a decent amount of jazz and blues influence, topped off with a dusting of modern pop country.

Personally, my biggest criticism of the album stems from that country influence. It is a genre of music I just can’t get into and its presence generally ruins an otherwise potentially great song for me. Even when that presence turns out to be a very miniscule amount, it is still too much for my tastes.

Despite the country music contamination, production wise, the album was solid. I might not enjoy what they were playing, but the talent of the band was obvious. I can give credit where credit is due, and their skill with their instruments was clear. The guitars were clean, and I felt there was a good amount of dynamics present in all of the songs. Lows had a good amount of presence and depth to them, while the highs were crisp and not distorted. The music blended together nicely and was not muddy or garbled.

Kathy’s voice was very pleasant to listen to and recorded crystal clear which is absolutely vital with this style of music that is really about showcasing what a singer is capable of doing more so than the music. Not to say I think musicians into this style don’t care about the music they make, but they do list the “singer” before the “song writer” part in the genre name.

If you like your rock on the softer side, and if the presence of a little bit of that down south, country twang doesn’t bother you,

I would feel pretty confident you would probably enjoy listening through this album.

Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Cover-Judge-Kathy-Muir/dp/B00TRWP57K

by Brian Thorson - ROCK n' ROLL VIEW, Brian Thorson

"Book Cover Judge Album review"

Multi-Talented Composer / Vocalist Kathy Muir just gave birth to a fantastic musical journey which takes you through an exhilarating 12 Track musical experience known as “Book Cover Judge.” In my own words the music of Kathy Muir is mostly avant-garde earthy Pop, but is also equal parts fascinating, engaging, challenging, and altogether passionate.

As a singer-songwriter Kathy knows what she likes and what suits her voice. Whilst comfortable playing acoustic pop, her blues influences weave through her songs and her vocal and lyrical style remains singular and instantly identifiable: an expressive range that is soft and intimate, yet sassy and upbeat with a natural, unforced delivery that captures the imagination. Music that is invigorating to the mind, body and soul. If anything, it captures the sheer impassioned Pop vibe that runs through these tracks like it runs through the veins of these pieces. All of this creates a musical environment so compelling and oh so listenable, compatible with virtually any listener. In many ways there are parts of the tracks that feel inspired by rock-pop-jazz crossover in general, but make no mistakes this a World Class CD. “Book Cover Judge” goes down smooth! I say smooth because most notably in the way that the same pieces use more melodic straight forward movements –more compatible to a mass audience no doubt. Some of this might be categorized as Pop-Jazz. The result is “Book Cover Judge” an exceptional 12 song LP where abandonment, self-awareness and consciousness coalesce. The first single off the album, provocatively titled “Head Down” is lyrically fascinating and vocally seductive and mysterious. I might add much of it is not dumbed down Pop – quite the opposite. The Muir camp/production team is not stupid – they are presenting this style of music in the most marketable light, and sung to us by a most marketable artist. Here we see the best of both worlds – Classic refined Pop merged with and crossover Singer-Songwriter and some Jazz for marketability and radio exposure. As a result “Book Cover Judge” covers a lot of ground. This release finds itself drawing to its close with 3 stronh closers “Seattle Mornin’”, “Ride These Times”, and “Softly.” The album feels as though it might not leave your soul after the music has stopped. Much like a brilliant sunset, but eventually it does indeed begin to fade out, leaving an indescribable feeling of joy, positive residue of the music has been left behind. I see “Book Cover Judge” an album full of hope during a dark and unpredictable journey. The sound shines with cautious optimism about the future.

Muir is an impressive vocalist and maybe overqualified for Pop. At times the songs embody the human spirit like on “I Will Be There’ and “Always Forever” with gifted sensibilities. Thick bass, exuberant Keyboard/synths and electronic drums are prominently displayed throughout the album helping to emphasize the Pop nature of the work. The many different styles and textures on the album are utilized in the best possible fashion.

Vivian Ross - Music Existence

"Muir has a knack for creating a mood with her music"

Kathy Muir’s latest release, “Book Cover Judge” boasts the warmth and richness of Muir’s soulful voice, against the many unique elements she brings to this album musically. Borrowing from a background in singing folk hymns at her church growing up, Muir’s singing and songwriting infuses a sound reminiscent of the spiritual hymns from her past with hints of jazz, blues and acoustic pop. Muir’s melodies, both vocally and instrumentally, are captivating and at times haunting. She creates a style that is unique to her, but also appeals to a wide audience—likeable and memorable from the beginning.

She starts this album off with a couple upbeat songs that don’t overpower, but rather infuse a mellow, jazzy beat that pairs well with her smooth voice. The first song, “Head Down,” uses percussion and piano to create a smoky sound that builds into a powerful hook. I enjoy the elements Muir brings together on this song to bring a sound with energy, yet a little bit of understatement too.

Perhaps my favorite song on the album is “Keep on Walking.” Muir’s voice reminds me a bit of Natalie Merchant on this track. It starts off simply but profoundly with just the guitar and the artist’s voice, building to a fuller and more upbeat chorus. Muir is great at conveying feeling and meaning, and this song is a great example of that. There is a sadness to this track that is beautifully told through lyrics, harmonies and the minimalism of guitar, piano and simple percussion.

Another favorite song for me is “Seattle Mornin’.” As with “Keep on Walking,” I love the instruments Muir uses in this song (again, mainly guitar and some percussion), and how they create a kind of haunting sound. The feel of this song reflects its title well—I can imagine sitting in a room looking out over the city on a dark, rainy morning. Muir has a knack for creating a mood with her music.

I tend to enjoy this artist’s mild, mellow tracks most because I think the simplicity of each element really showcases her talent vocally and instrumentally. But I think the fact that Muir is capable of creating and performing both mellow and more dynamic music, while accomplishing a provocative and interesting sound in each one, speaks to her versatility and talent as a musician.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/book-cover-judge/id968776738 - Vents Magazine, RJ Frometa

"'One of the best recordings I have listened to this year'"

What can I say about a near perfect CD? Kathy's voice is crisp and prestine, the music is well written and the production was spot on. As a singer-songwriter Kathy knows what she likes to sing and write about. She is well aware of what suits her voice. While comfortable playing acoustic pop, her jazz /blues influences weave through many of her songs. Her vocal and lyrical style remains singular and instantly identifiable: an expressive range that is soft, intimate and upbeat with a natural, unforced delivery.

It has often been suggested to Indie artist's the first three songs need to be the best three. Don't begin the CD with some slow mood alternating chord progression that takes 3-4 minutes to develop. As an Indie artist you have to envision the "elevator sales pitch." You have to pitch your product (or music) before the elevator reaches it's destination. Simply put, get to the point. Kathy does just that with the opening track 'Head Down.' Not to waste a precious second getting to the point Cathy starts off the CD with a full force acoustic pop tune. "Starts off" is an understatement as this song gets right to the point once the CD loads. No waiting to take a deep breath or let the music fade in. The song starts like a train wreck and never allows the listener a chance to catch his/her breath until track 2. Her rich articulate voice combined with her fabulous control of the guitar provides the listener with a well rehearsed performance on every track.

Although Kathy seems most comfortable playing acoustic pop, she does tend to add her jazz and blues influences through a number of her songs. Her vocal range is soft yet powerful. Lyrically, Kathy can be introspective as well as outwardly positive. In one instance she sang about the simplicity of just wanting a "cold beer."

This CD was one of the best recordings I have listened to this year. The mix was simple yet complex at times. The studio producer allowed the vocals the ability to breath without distracting from the supporting instruments. When you combine the power of a great female vocalist with a top notch backing band you have the formula for something breathtaking. Even when you have an all-star cast working together something can get lost in the studio. Not the case here. I tip my hat to every person involved with this project. - Evor, Charles Harrelson

"Kathy Muir - Book Cover Judge"

You can tell by listening to real “good” music by the “keep it real” impression it makes on the world and by the footprint it leaves behind. Sometimes it can come out in a passionate vocal line, a social movement, or a song that is sung with emotional bewilderment. The collection of songs featured here by Kathy Muir is a non-stop presentation of mainly vocal-pop but also rhythm and blues, soul and traces of Jazz and even Rock. Making use of every production and instrument in the book, it’s hard not to find something you’ll like on this 12 track collection. Muir is originally from Scotland but now lives in Connecticut.

The first track “Head Down” gets things started right full of intoxicating vocals that really keep the essence of the music hopeful and pure. Sometimes you don`t need too much to create something high quality and overly complicated to ne powerful. Despite this the music is a bit abstract. I’ve often heard the term “Keep it Simple Stupid”. Keeping this in mind there’s no over the top musical theatrics here with a conservative rhythm section and immense variety of instrumentation throughout. My ears pricked up to the unique and somewhat spiritual vocal style of Muir right away. Track 2 “Soul Lover” delivers a catchy offering. Add in a few clairvoyant and wise-woman lyrics and some intriguing subject matter expressed with eloquently, emotion and conviction and you will come to understand why this artist is clearly growing in popularity.

The vocal style of Muir defiantly flows like a ship lost at sea, and I’ve only heard a handful of singer execute this style well in this type of music. Because there aren’t any lyrics most people fail to understand this style of music. Despite this all songs have messages worthy of your attention but you listen more than once to pick up on it. All in all it’s a yet creative gamut of songs. Mix is a bit dated sounding to me but hey it works. “Always Forever” and “I Will Be There” are more standout tracks not to be underestimated with musical psychedelics and a distinctive voice for the masses to consume. Most songs are about themes of love, life, hope, joy, Truth, transformation, resurrection and a bit of religious conviction. Some track like “You and Me Both” and “Keep on Walking” have a real ring of truth to them. Muir is a breath away from top tired Contemporary Pop – which is a compliment but cutting edge enough not to sound like Carol Carpenter. Swaying between older pop and smooth vocal jazz-blues Muir proves herself yet again and is a rather unique talent in the hands of a capable Producer.

Musical flavoring reminiscent of Natalie Merchant, Fiona Apple, Nelly Durtado, Venessa Carlton and Aimee Mann.

Kathy Muir has all the component necessary for a popular vocal-pop act. These songs are probably even better in a live setting – a big component necessary to be a popular act. I wouldn’t call her just pop – there’s so much more. Maybe Spiritual and abstract Melodic Pop is what I would call it that has so much depth. I listened to this album 3 or 4 times and there’s something I didn’t pick up on before. All of above makes an established act like Kathy Muir stands out even more in a world of soulless musical clutter lacking soul, hope an genuine substance.

– Heather Copeland - Band Blurb

"Kathy Muir - Book Cover Judge album review"

Who doesn’t like poppy singer-songwriter music? I’d bet all hands go up in the air. I mean, while bluesy singer-songwriter, which by the way kind of emerges in the late 60’s and 70’s with the arrival of Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Elton John and Billy Joel, represented a close and personal artistic snapshot from the artist in question. The music tended to be at times gripping and more powerful. Many feel this amazing, and powerful singer-songwriter sound has lost it’s way evolving into overly commercialized, highly corporate songs that do a better job at getting under your skin rather than pour into your heart.

Despite this introduction most music fans can’t deny getting into an artist that literally grabs you and refuses to let go until the song or album has ran its course. This is exactly how I would describe Kathy Muir. Muir is originally from the UK but now resides in Connecticut. She just released her latest work entitled “Book Cover Judge”. “Book Cover Judge” is exceptional music and multi-dimensional to say the least. With a distinctive voice and lyrical style that combines a blend of acoustic and pop influences infused with a hint of blues, Kathy brings a unique spectrum of songs to the stage. The music is as unconstrained by artistic boundaries as the woman herself. As a young teenager growing up on Edinburgh’s south side, Kathy loved to sing Sunday hymns or ‘songs’, as she preferred to call them, at her local church. The music itself is uplifting, thought provoking, interesting and striking to the ears (in a good way). It also however possesses a smooth bluesy rock style that is sort of compatible to the traditional mold of the classic singer-songwriter style. I can hear Michelle Branch, Dido, Vanessa Carlton, Anna Nalick, Kate Voegele and Jewel. Just listen to marquee tracks like “You and Me Both”, “Lover’s Eyes” and “Back to You” and you’ll begin to see my perspective. I got hooked on Muir after the first few moments of Track 1 “Head Down”. I do hate to pigeonhole but if you like any of the above artists and Paula Cole, Annie Lennox and Tori Amos you will love this release.

Criticism: CD sounds a bit dated reminiscent of Pop popular 20= years ago. As much as I admire Muir I think she should modernize her sound sounding more like say – Lana Del Rey

Once again the main focus of this genre of music is generally the personality of the artist, here In this intimate environment Muir wins you over without even trying. Her amazing lyrical content never feels like an afterthought. What’s more the vocal work and impeccable songwriting from Muir really brings it all together. All in all it’s a powerful combination that puts an artist like Kathy Muir on the map for 2015 as she heads out on tour. She should go a long way towards proving that real music is still alive and well.

Evan Gardiner - Skope

"CD REVIEW: Kathy Muir - Book Cover Judge"

CD Review: (EDINBURGH, UK) With a distinctive voice and lyrical style that combines a blend of acoustic and pop influences infused with a hint of blues, Kathy brings a unique spectrum of songs to the stage. The music is as unconstrained by artistic boundaries as the woman herself. As a young teenager growing up on Edinburgh’s south side, Kathy loved to sing Sunday hymns or 'songs', as she preferred to call them, at her local church. When folk hymns were introduced to the church and her mother became one of the singers, Kathy started to pick up on these catchier tunes and in a few years decided she too wanted to join the folk group. She was now equally drawn to the guitar and started to learn on a friend’s old acoustic. In the space of six months she had secured a position in the group and would head to church early every Sunday to practice before the service. This love of spiritual songs has continued to grow over the years and Kathy has learned to find her own inner voice that has resulted in her now individual style of songwriting. This latest 12Track effort is called “Book Cover Judge” and was released in 2014.

The CD takes flight with “Head Down” a slamming and upbeat, rocked-out guitar groove that serves up driving rock rhythm against slamming Organ, rocked out guitar against soulful vocal work. Track 2, keeps thing moving in the right direction with its steady flowing rhythm, hooky chorus, and heartfelt message. Track 2 “Soul Lover” downshifts slightly with its methodical musical build eventually lending itself into an impressive melodic ballad that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid tracks in a row. I would classify this music as classic Pop, with Cross-over Jazz, Singer-Songwriter, Light Rock embellishments. Also present elements of Singer/Songwriter and Americana-Pop. Along the way you will notice impressive instrumentation with things like impressive solo guitar, Piano, Keyboards, well placed harmonies all built upon a solid rhythm section to boot against sporadic percussive accents layered along the way. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Now turning our attention over to Muir as for her vocal abilities, it voice works extremely well within the confines of this catalogue. She’s got a good look, a catchy mystique and knows how to sit deep within the pocket and sing a song with amazing vocal fluidity. She is very consistent. Her voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with an inviting timbre. She’s got a good vibrato and impressive Mezzo Soprano. The Songwriting is like an old pair of Blue Jeans world class, harmonies and melodies are well placed and well crafted. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The Musicianship is world class and delivers everything you would expect from a Top-Tiered musical Production. The music reminds me of a combination between Shawn Colvin and Bonnie Rait, Suzanne Vega, Susan Tedeschi, Shelby Lynne, Dido, Sara Bareilles, Lucinda Williams, Kim Carnes, and Allison Krauss. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board. From melodic “You’re on my Mind” to striking “Lover’s Eyes” to hypnotic “Back to You” to heartfelt “Always Forever” and rocking “Ride These Times” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 12 “Softly” the perfect finale statement for an CD like this.

All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I wish Muir took a few more vocal risks every now showcasing more blood curling emotion especially during the finale moments of her music. To go with this I wish Muir showcase more vocal power – compatible with those emotion and moments. I wish there were a few more solo segments throughout the CD.

From start to finish “Book Cover Judge” by Kathy Muir brings the mojo and is a very consistent musical release from start to finish. Let me go on record by saying this music is invigorating, grooving, melodic and entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Kathy Muir and her band are rock solid. The artistic presence from Kathy Muir is impressive UK based talent and her overall persona is something many folks should gravitate towards – outside that region.

Cyrus Rhodes - The Muse's Muse

"'Book Cover Judge' tracks upbeat in theme is a refreshing change"

Singer-Songwriter Kathy Muir's second album, Book Cover Judge, sees her move on from her debut album, Far from Eternity while still keeping the jazz and pop feel. The first thing you notice is her voice, which has a rich quality and a sustain to it enabling her to tackle the long notes with aplomb. Clear enunciation helps for Muir's is the sort of music which relies as much on the lyrics as the instrumentation. Comparisons with some of the work of Alannah Myles or even Sheryl Crow are inevitable and would not be misplaced.

Lyrically, Muir has skilfully evaded the trap into which many of peers have fallen, eschewing the stereotype of the lone female singer-songwriter sitting in a room writing and singing miserable songs about lost love and bitterness, although the lyrics come closest to this on "Back to You". Many of the tracks are upbeat in theme and this is a refreshing change. It is refreshingly different and more empowering than the embittered misery image so many of her contemporaries seek to portray. The use of female backing vocals to provide an at times restrained depth to the harmonies is apparent on some of the tracks, especially the opener, "Head Down".

Many of the tracks begin with a quiet passage on the acoustic guitar before the vocals begin, and the rest of the instruments join in. Some of these intros, such as on "Keep on Walking" have a quality which sets the songs apart from many female singer-songwriters. "You're on My Mind" shows the jazz influences at their most pronounced while "Lover's Eyes" begins with what might almost be classed a riff while "You and Me Both" has the clearest melody with a road trip feel to it. Perhaps the most distinctive track is "I Will Be There" which has the strongest rhythm emphasised by the clapping and the deep tone to the song.

Although Muir originates from Edinburgh, this is not apparent in either her voice or her musical style. Her voice has a North American lilt to its delivery, albeit unplaceable to a smaller area. Musically, the influence of jazz keeps the songs from straying into the sort of Alt. Country Americana of artists such as Lucinda Williams which would pigeonhole her much more narrowly. Occasionally there is imagery I cannot empathise with - "Seattle Mornin'" does not engender in me images or memories of that city and yet "Ride These Times" fits perfectly the feeling of riding a steam train along railway lines to an unknown destination.

Book Cover Judge is an album which will appeal to fans of its genre. It is, however, unlikely to attract new ones to it. It is an album which exists within Muir's comfort zone. I suspect that there is more to Kathy Muir than she is letting on and it would be interesting to hear her if she took the more adventurous course of breaking free of the boundaries which she seems to have imposed on herself and her music. - Music Emissions, Charles Martel

"Stamford singer, songwriter debuts song, video of ‘Seattle Mornin’ “"

Stamford singer and songwriter Kathy Muir plays the original song she wrote for a collaboration with filmmaker Markus Innocenti and Greenwich artist Paul Larson at the Loft Artists Association in Stamford on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. The video and song will be released Nov. 18, 2014, as part of an event at the association. File photos/Lindsay Perry

When Kathy Muir first arrived in Stamford some two years ago from her native Scotland, one of her very first trips in her new home was a visit to Cove Island Park. As she has long been drawn to nature, the stop brought her peace and a sense that she too would soon take root; and, as it turned out, help to create something in return.

This week, Muir, a singer and songwriter, is celebrating the release of her first single, “Seattle Mornin’ ” off her second album, “Book Cover Judge,” which is due in January, as well as its accompanying video. It comes out today, Nov. 18, complete with an event to kick off the release.

Muir will welcome the public beginning at 7 p.m. at the Loft Artists Association studios to talk about the music, as well as the creative collaboration that went in to the video , which will have a debut showing during the event. - Stamford Advocate

"Integrated approach helps to highlight abstract-inspired art"

Paul G. Larson had a right to be distracted. On this afternoon, he couldn't complete even one stroke on the canvas without a camera in his face.

Instead, he was calm, steadily working the surface of the canvas with his charcoal. Under his hand, an image was building in the cubist style of his works. He had a ways to go before this "Ghost in Revery" would be complete, but he had time, and, more importantly, he couldn't really rush it.

Creating a painting from beginning to end was crucial for another form of artwork -- the music video that had been tasked to Markus Innocenti, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and music video director who has worked with Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan and the Eurythmics. Innocenti was quietly filming Larson as he worked on the piece, propped up on an easel in his studio, located in the building that houses Stamford-based Loft Artists Association.

There was a third person in this tableau -- Stamford-based singer and songwriter Kathy Muir. Muir smiled as she watched the two men at work. It was her words and music, after all, that inspired all this creativity.

"I always wanted a painter to pictorially represent the song," said Muir of "Seattle Mornin'," the single for which Innocenti was filming.

For the three, it has been a project that has engendered respect and brought about discovery, even among artists who have been at their craft for some time.

"I had yet to film an artist confronting a blank canvas," said Innocenti, a Scottish-American filmmaker and author who began his career in London about 30 years ago. He first worked with Muir last year. "To film those very first markings, to hear that slash as the charcoal hits the canvas, it's like a boxer going in."

Larson, a lifelong Greenwich resident who began his art career more than 35 years ago, said he also was feeling the novelty of the experience. Such a singular and committed focus to one painting was unusual -- he usually works on several at a time. And, unlike a visual cue, Larson only had the textual landscape of lyrics for inspiration.

"I hadn't formed an image," said Larson, which fortunately was discovered in time for filming. "But, an emotional image had formed."

Muir can trace it all back to that moment when she jotted down the lyrics to "Seattle Mornin'. "

"It's about relationships," she said and how they can evolve from clear and thoughtful beginnings to opaque and abstract places. Imbued in the lyrics is this sense that what was once known and understood is now difficult to comprehend; the parameters that held it together have moved and shifted.

As she framed the words, Muir found inspiration in Pablo Picasso, who, over the course of his long career, moved from a realistic style to surrealism and abstraction. One can hear his influence in her lyrics.

As she sought an artist whose work represented a cubist style, she looked far and wide. To her surprise, it was a visit to the association's annual Open Studios event late last year that completed her quest. The artist was right in her backyard.

"I wandered into Paul's studio and saw his work," she said, which included several large pieces of dancers and musicians -- pieces he was working on for his solo show "Another View," which is on exhibit at the association's gallery. Inspired, she told him about her project and her desire to enlist an artist to create a unique piece for the video she envisioned.

"She asked one question and we ended up talking for about three hours," Larson said.

Larson said yes, but not before the two played a bit of guitar and talked music.

"We just jammed together," said Larson, who also is a musician. Fortunately, he has a guitar or two lying around his studio for just such moments.

The trio is hoping to bring others to this party, too. The public can see the output of all this work beginning with an unveiling of the painting this weekend, which will remain on display in "Another View," through Sunday, March 24.

The single "Seattle Mornin'" will be released this summer on Muir's second album, which is being produced by Stamford-based Hi-Top Productions. Her first album, "Far From Entirely," came out last year. The videos (you can look for plenty of Stamford scenes) are set for release this summer at www.kathymuir.com. - Stamford Advocate

"Stamford singer, songwriter teams with teens to raise awareness, funds for homelessness"

oday marked the release of a new single from Stamford singer and songwriter Kathy Muir, which will help to raise funds for a Miami charity that serves the poor and homeless.

“Keep on Walking,” which is available on Bandcamp today, was inspired by the black-and-white photographs taken by two brothers, Alexander and Christopher Kiener, whose project, “Art is Homeless,” brings the faces of those who are homeless to light.

The twins, who are based in South Florida began their quest as a community service project, with the help of their father, Joseph, who is a self-taught photographer.

Muir said she first learned about the teens work when @art_is_homeless started following her on Twitter at about this time last year. Before she followed them in return, however, she said she clicked the link to their website and soon learned about the worthy endeavor that would raise money for Camillus House in Miami.

“It really moved me, so I replied back to them on Twitter and told them that I loved their work and I thought they were doing a great job,” she said. “Next, I told them that I wanted to write a son for them, which is something that I never have done before.”

On her way in to New York City by train, she said she wasn’t able to pick up her guitar until she got back home later that day and did not stop until 1 a.m. in the morning. The next day, she worked on it some more, before sending her demo off to the Kieners.

A year later, her efforts to write a song that “captures the essence of their photography,” has been realized, and she is hopeful that later this week the single will be available at other online musical services, as well, including iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and Spotify as well as Rdio, Deezer and Beats Music.

She recently expressed her thoughts in a recent blog post. Half of the song’s proceeds will go to Camillus House.

The lyrics, she said, were inspired by the brothers’ work, as well as her own emotions and feelings that surfaced after she had seen the photographs. “Everyone has felt lost within themselves at one time,” she said.

It is a creative collaboration that has many levels. The video for her release features the Kieners’ images, which Muir received permission to use. (You can see it below.)

Included in the release on Bandcamp is a digital booklet that includes some of the artwork and some words as to what inspired the project. Muir said the service typically only allows booklets for full album releases, but is allowing her this ability because of the charitable nature of the song and project.

“I had asked them if they could make an exception and they said go ahead,” she said.

Muir said she also plans to be on Edinburgh’s Shore Radio on April 18, in her native country of Scotland, where she will play some of her songs and talk about her latest project. She will be on Ricky Templeman’s drivetime show.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I always talking about how people can give their time, creativity or their money to make a difference. And, if lots of people are making small differences, it can become a much larger difference.”

“Keep on Walking,” also will be on the forthcoming album “BookCoverJudge.” - Culture Cache

"Kathy Muir interview with Ricky on Shore Radio"

Interview with DJ Ricky Templeman and a chance to perform and talk about Keep on Walking and raising awareness and monies for a project started by two high school students. - Shore Radio

"Sweet and Easy"

John Muir (1838-1914), Elizabeth Colborne (1885-1948) and The Seattle Camera Club (1924-1929) were the inspirations for the song by Kathy Muir, "Sweet and Easy."

More than anything else in the song, Scottish native Kathy Muir celebrates Muir's lyrical approach to Nature. Kathy became inspired by Muir's writings through an American friend who mentioned his huge impact on the United States. Despite growing up 30 miles from Muir's birthplace in Dunbar, Scotland, she had not heard of him until working in Connecticut, USA.

The song has a jazzy, soulful melody featuring such lines as “Your words rise, like sea winds that carry / A scented view from a landscape past, cast in stone/ Man of the mountain and of the sea / Your beating heart has a sweet rhyme... / And how you tell your stories – sweet and easy.”

Kathy Muir says: “There’s a lot in the lyrics that refers to John Muir the naturalist, but you’d never think it was written about someone who was born over 150 years ago. Great art has the power to inspire anyone and I absolutely love John Muir’s writing, it really speaks to me. I started reading his books and the way he describes things just embraces you. His style strikes me as extremely lyrical and made me want to learn more about him.”

As her lyrics say about John Muir, she knows she is one of the "... travellers passing through nature's poems carved in stone..."

She explains that she was inspired by Muir's "desire to fuse rational and investigative sensibilities with aesthetic and spiritual ideas – to be both naturalist and nature celebrant. Whether nature or nurture, it really makes little difference, for Muir’s legacy has had an immense impact on this songwriter. First I discovered his words, and then I discovered Yosemite."

She goes on to say:

"John Muir has the ability to describe something you have never before seen but which immediately seizes your mind’s eye as he takes you there in an instant: he remembers the fragrance of Scottish sea winds as a boy that, 19 years later, would awaken his senses whilst in Florida, far from the coast; he compares a storm-beaten book he found in Yosemite Valley, comparing its crumbly outer pages yet well preserved inner pages ‘to the great open book of Yosemite glaciers today’.

He is by far my favourite author and though I may never travel to see Alaska’s glaciers, visit all America’s national parks or wonder at all the great mountains of California, through his writing I can’t help but become a part of his effusive enthusiasm for nature.

As with Muir in 1868, I too visited Yosemite based on only ever reading about it and I too was overwhelmed by the landscape."

The song also celebrates - as especially noted in her music video version - woodblock prints by Elizabeth Colborne (1885-1948). Colborne's color woodcuts - produced during the 1920s and 1930s - depict Pacific Northwest scenes. Colborne, an integral part of the regional Arts and Crafts Movement, was influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e prints. In addition to color woodcuts, Colborne made drawings in graphite and colored pencil, as well as small, intimate and highly detailed gouache paintings. A line in the "Sweet and Easy" lyrics evoke Colborne's art: "... And those who carved their memories on blocks of wood from a maple tree...."

The third influence for "Sweet and Easy" is The Seattle Camera Club (1924-1929). Kathy learned about the Club from a book, Shadows of a Fleeting World: Pictorial Photography and the Seattle Camera Club, written by David F. Martin and Nicolette Bromberg, which she says "has enriched my appreciation of art in a very beautiful and arresting way." The book provides a rare glimpse into the Pacific Northwest regional Pictorialist movement with fine examples of some of the Club's photographic art. Kathy's lyrics, "There were those who painted pictures..." is about these pictorial photographers who, through dark room techniques, were able to make photos look like paintings. Thanks in part to Pictorialism, photographs began to be recognized less as a tool to document social history and more as an artist's tool. Kathy explains further, "The book describes how the Seattle Camera Club was formed and provides an insight into their lives long after the club disbanded. Thanks to the club’s members, their work helped pictorial photography become a recognised art form in the salons of that era, formerly only reserved for paintings. By the time you finish reading ‘Shadows’ you not only feel you have viewed some truly wonderful photographs but that you have gained an insight into these artists’ lives and what they were trying to achieve." While the club - initially all Japanese-American - only lasted from 1924-1929, it was amazingly successful. Members exhibited their work all over the world and their photographs were widely published and won many awards. Their images included both cityscapes and Northwest forest and mountain landscapes such as Mt. Rainier - as celebrated in Kathy's lyrics: "And how you tell your stories / Of painters and picture men who captured reality / Of a halcyon highway..." Kathy has included a special section of her website dedicated to "Sweet and Easy - The Untold Story" which explains further the inspiration that came from these fine-art photographers of the Seattle Camera Club.

The song is available to download on iTunes and Amazon. Kathy Muir has posted a music video of the song on YouTube which includes images of John Muir in Yosemite, Colborne's woodcuts, and photographs from the Seattle Camera Club, all "artists from a bygone era whose work continues to inspire and is included for the first time ever in a music video!" - Sierra Club

"CD Review: Kathy Muir's 'Far From Entirely'"

The Scottish folk-pop singer, Kathy Muir, adds a talented repertoire of country-pop guitar songs with an equal element of roots, blues, and rock. With a voice like Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin, and Stevie Nicks, Kathy comes through with flying colors and equally-airborne riffs. "Fairytale Lies" is a fitting song with Stevie Nicks' signature all over it, but it is inherently Kathy Muir all the way. The steel, slide guitar opening matches the upbeat tambourine and percussion kit with a rhythmic voice and catchy melody. "You Surround Me" opens with a pensive piano melody with accompanying strings that do not include percussion until mid-song. The song is void of vocals, but it is reminiscent of a lighter incarnation of something from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. "Heaven In Your Eyes" is a folksy song with a bluesy presence and chilling percussion, guitars, and vocals. "Sweet and Easy" is a breezy, folk song with light pop elements that are jazzy and easy to listen to. Throughout the entire album, Kathy's vocals do not contain a Scottish accent and the musical arrangements resemble North American productions. Overall, the music is varied, folksy, bluesy, and a pleasure to listen to. - Mathew Forss

"Kathy Muir is far from entirely on her newest release"

Kathy Muir is a powerful combination of the empowering, independent female singer/songwriters that have come before her. Annie Lennox, Bonnie Raitt, Ani DiFranco, Michelle Branch, and even Dido. I could name more but you get my point.

Far From Entirely is her newest release and it is one you will definitely listen to more than once.

Kathy knows her voice and knows her style. Each track displays not only her confidence but how comfortable she is in her music. Her vocals are delivered Sweet and Easy over a warm and relaxing soundscape.

If you need to vibe out, play this record.

If you just need to listen to some great music, play this record.

Like any great creative person, Kathy’s non-musical influences weave their way into her tunes. Below is an excerpt from her bio explaining the ideas behind Sweet and Easy.

The song ‘Sweet and Easy’ is actually dedicated to artists from a bygone era: John Muir the naturalist, the Seattle Camera Club (1924-1929) and Elizabeth Colborne – a woodblock printer – the latter two hailing from the Pacific Northwest. What is unusual is that Kathy has collaborated with the University of Washington, The Pacific Library of California and the Whatcom Museum to obtain copyright approval to show selected works of these artists in her music video. Her aim is true: to show beautiful work she feels sure would capture people’s hearts today.

Even more intriguing is the fact Kathy has been working with Markus Innocenti on the videos for Far From Entirely. Kathy is the first artist Markus has worked with in 20 years.

If you are trying to figure out who Markus Innocenti is, he is only one of the most respected music video directors of the 1980s. His resume includes projects with Bob Dylan, Annie Lennox, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Page, Ringo Starr, and Bill Wyman. Quite the who’s who list of legendary songwriters…

You can assume that ending a 20 year hiatus to work on videos with Kathy Muir means that Kathy isn’t just another songwriter. Consider this a sign you need to start paying attention.

You can sample the album below, but I suggest saving some time by just grabbing a copy.

Scroll down for the Jezebel video then leave a comment telling us what you think.

Read more at http://www.midtnmusic.com/kathy-muir-is-far-from-entirely-on-her-newest-release/#lcJ7pQyGCfoSEze1.99 - Middle Tennessee Music

"Through sketches and songs, Stamford music night celebrates originality, creativity"

Even as she is sharing it, Gracie Day admits it is not a good story. Bantering on about Stamford and its lack of parking will not win the crowd. But she knows what will.

“This one’s an oldie,” the Bristol singer-songwriter says of “Tequila and Lime,” the next song in her set. “I wrote this a few years ago based on some jazz chords that had inspired me.

“It was about a change in my life. I broke up with my boyfriend, which had inspired some changes,” pausing for a smattering of applause. “Thanks for the clapping,” Day says, with a bemused grin.

Fellow singer/songwriter Kathy Muir watches the scene unfold as she leans against the bar. She is beaming and her eyes are bright. Creative expression is alive and well in Tavern 489, a Stamford restaurant where music and visual art come together every other Tuesday night.

“It’s wonderful to be able to sing and hear yourself and talk about your song,” she says after Day’s set is through. Muir had performed a half-hour set earlier that night. “It’s still resonating with me now. It’s really good to sing to a small set of people. I want to have a voice and be appreciated for putting a piece of art together, rather than just performing a cover.”

Muir launched the night in collaboration with Tavern 489 co-owner Eric Monte, who also operates The Fez in Stamford. The two are committed to original music.

“I can’t reiterate this enough: The importance of original music and creativity needs to live on, and if we can be a little part of that and incubate that, that’s a good thing,” Monte says.

Since April, T489 Original Acoustic Music Night has brought together singers and songwriters, music fans, sketch artists and sometimes unsuspecting visitors who were only stopping by for a whiskey or a beer.

Sketch artists, from their perch at a long table or the bar, fill pages of a handmade, leather-bound notebook with portraits of the performers — often in less than 30 minutes. On every facing page is a lyric from that artist, as well as one from another artist who inspires them.

While in her “bad space,” as she calls it, Virginia Semeghini, who performs as “That Virginia,” didn’t make any music. It broke when she penned “I Wrote My Own.” It was the anthem of who she wanted to be. Aiding her on that journey were the music and words of American singer-songwriter Trevor Hall, particularly the song, “Obsidian.” Lyrics from both can be found in the notebook, as well as a portrait of Semeghini rendered by Lily Gilbert.

Semeghini, who lives in Bridgeport’s Black Rock section, performed during T489’s debut evening. She’s been to open mics before, but this music series is different, Semeghini says.

“This is more curated. Kathy is careful with whom she chooses to play. That makes a difference,” she says. “Even though I put a lot of time into writing lyrics, lots of time it goes unnoticed. At T489, people are not only really listening, but they give people a platform to talk about their process and how songs happen.”

It’s breeding creativity on several layers. Gilbert, who has attended two of the evenings, has come to appreciate the community Muir is helping to form.

“This is the first time where I have seen an equal spotlight between musicians and artist. Both times I was there, I felt just as much a part of the performance as the musician.”

The concept is gaining in strength. Observation of multiple evenings revealed that troubadours no longer had to compete with tales being spun at the bar. Even those seemingly surprised by the showcase of singers appeared game to cede to the 90 minutes of music and take up their conversations during breaks in the action.

During those breaks, one can hear an equally important component to the evening, the playlist that Muir crafts from the digital music service SoundCloud for every show. Performers’ original works, recorded in Muir’s home studio, along with a playlist of music from established artists from around the world, is intended to show area artists can hold their own with the best of them.

One can go to SoundCloud to hear exclusive interviews with the artists and see original works of art. Meanwhile, the sketchbook becomes a sophisticated version of those black-framed pictures reminding patrons of those who once graced the stage.

“There is a wonderful feeling in knowing that someone is coming to listen to you, and you are not just background music,” says Muir, who has released a couple of albums. “There are extremely good musicians out there who want to have more of a voice, and Tavern 489 is one of the few truly open to original music.” - CTpost, By Christina Hennessy

"Second Life - 'honed to a fine point both musically and lyrically'"

There’s nothing regional about the talents of Kathy Muir. Her Scottish heritage, undoubtedly, influences her deep musical talents, but the songwriting driving an album like Second Life is more all encompassing, broader, and its roots inform it rather than dictate to it. She has largely outgrown the label Americana, but there’s still a strong cross-section of material present on the album that more than justifies it along with some other less frequently used classifications. In the end, this is just fine music, honed to a fine point both musically and lyrically, and such arts need no labels except for the merchants. Muir is certainly a member of the singer/songwriter school, but her sensibilities have a stronger literary bent than many working within the same arena.

“Lucky One” is a rather traditional offering from a singer/songwriter. It’s a variation on the relationship gone bad formula and pleasingly remains hazy enough on specifics that listeners can take away from it virtually anything they desire. “Better Man”, however, is the first indication that we’re working with something much different than the garden variety singer/songwriter – this is much more complicated fare than the typical meditation on a failing relationship and Muir perfectly captures subtle character dynamics with a minimum of words. It’s an excellent choice to alternate those opening songs with a stripped back blues like “Simply That” and the song title contributes to the feeling that it might have been quite a conscious decision. Muir does a superb job with the bluesy strains of this track without straining too hard and shows unflappable confidence through each line. “Honey Child” has some mild traditional country music influences, but it’s much more in a light pop vein than perhaps any other song on the album once the full arrangement begins. The acoustic guitar and vocal opening the song is extraordinarily beautiful.

The lockstep jaunt her collaborators achieve on “Stop Messin’ Me Around” is a highlight on the album and keeps Muir’s vocal bouncing and full of fire. There’s an almost rockabilly feel to the way that the band chases the song and it conveys more raw energy than probably any single track on Second Life. Things noticeably settle on “I Want to Lay Down”, a gently yearning love song that offers a deep glimpse into the beautiful folk textures she can pull from her heart. The urgency returns some in “Born by the Water” and Muir delivers a lyric here that surely rates as one of the finest of the eleven songs. The music has surprising simplicity, but Muir never fails to subvert that seeming simplicity at critical times for effect.

Another of those remarkable moments when Muir’s songwriting raises more than a notch above her contemporaries is “Never Felt like a Woman”. It’s a remarkable confession of vulnerability phrased with careful feeling and pinnacles of unbridled emotion. Second Life ends with the one-two punch of “Troubled Town” and the title song. The first is Muir alone with a piano and it has a powerhouse emotional impact. Muir carefully weaves her voice around the piano playing in an attempt to make their two voices reflections of one and succeeds. The finale brings her together with a broad orchestral backing that she matches up with quite well. It’s likely the album’s best lyric and vocal in many ways and, like elsewhere throughout Second Life, pours every bit of herself into the song. - Shannon Cowden, Indie Music Reviews

"Second Life: 'The lyrical content has exceptional literary value'"

Kathy Muir’s third album doesn’t find her negioating her way through some major change in direction or style. Instead, Second Life is eleven songs of consolidation. The style she has established with her first two albums is further refined here and her singer/songwriter bonafides are burnished further by the obvious personal turn in the writing. Second Life’s production and songwriting also hints at a gradually broadening of Muir’s sound – the classification of Americana music is growing harder and harder for Muir’s releases to maintain and she seems to be subsuming a variety of styles into her sound. The lyrical content has exceptional literary value – each text is perfectly conceived and Muir expresses herself in words with the same lean vitality energizing her music.

“Lucky One” has a number of emotional stances and some underrated moments of bite. Muir’s vocal never becomes overwrought at any of these turns and she orchestrates the competing emotions with a sure hand. The song has the sort of steadily mounting tension we associate with rock tracks. This quality is present on the album’s second song as well. Muir cuts loose vocally a little more than before on “Better Man”, but it still avoids lapsing into anything melodramatic or purple. A big reason why such a moment never comes is thanks to Muir’s lyrics – few songs on Second Life embody her precise writing style better. Her warm, welcoming vocal on “Honey Child” has a practically hypnotic quality. It’s the depth of emotion that’s soothing and the guitar work complements it perfectly with a number of subtly lyrical runs. “Stop Messin’ Me Around” jumps with genuine live, musicians on the floor feel and the bluesy echoes fueling the track are a welcome shift at this point.

The violin and guitar arrangement of “Born by the Water” is deceptively simple, but it has flashes of ingenuity and one of the album’s best lyrics. Muir’s voice follows the emotional trajectory of the lyrics with an eye towards balancing her performance in perfect sympathy with the band’s playing. There’s a surprising rock and roll energy peering its way from below the acoustic musings of “Never Felt Like a Woman” and it might help make the track the album’s high point in many ways. There’s a very folky quality to “Like Warriors” that Muir makes the most of with a gloriously sweeping vocal full of feeling and the careful phrasing that brings her lyrics more to the fore. The title song concludes Second Life on quite a memorable note. Muir’s voice works exceptionally well with the song’s classical backing track despite the fact that the production clearly places a priority on her voice. It’s one of her best vocals, however, and the song’s lyrical turns are particularly affecting. - RJ Frometa, VENTS Magazine

"There’s something proud and intensely confident about Muir’s performance on Second Life."

There are journeys and destinations alike on Kathy Muir’s third album Second Life. Some songs are certainly looks back in melancholy, but a number of tracks clearly note an improved present and point the way towards the proverbial better tomorrow. There is playfulness a plenty over the album’s eleven tracks, but it’s playfulness of a distinctly adult variety. Maturity need not be a dirty word. Muir’s songwriting will satisfy music fans of this genre because of its maturity – there’s an increasing unity in her work that seamlessly transmutes personal experience into melody and fills her voice with empathy and fire that will bends countless ears to listen.

Many of the album’s songs are reflections on relationships. This venerable subject provides a lot of grist for Muir’s mill and few of the songs are better at framing the subject than Lucky One. Much of this is due to Muir’s vocal. She is a presence in the track from first line to last and comes down hard on certain words and phrases with an unshakable confidence that makes the song all the more convincing.

The second song Better Man has much of the same design heard on the album’s opener, but Muir whips herself into a greater vocal lather than before and the music has a slightly more chaotic, stormy quality.

Simply That is an exclusively acoustic track and a pensive blues where the intensity only rises near the end. Muir tackles that rousing finish with a lot of grit and gravitas we haven’t heard until now.

Stop Messin’ Me Around features a tight band performance that, nonetheless, manages to snatch up a rambunctious attitude and never loosens their grip.

The slowly unwinding quality of I Want to Lay Down has an easy, unassuming grace that is hard to dislike. Many of these sort of songs have a lovely pastoral feel, a languid warmth patiently washing over the audience, and few songs on Second Life illustrate that better than this.

The violin plays a big role in pushing Born by the Water forward with a lot of urgency, but the steady strum on acoustic guitar does the same and gives the song a tangible percussive charge, Muir’s singing hits the vocal melody with precise phrasing that really makes the lyrics come alive.

The aforementioned pastoral qualities reemerge on the song Like Warriors. This sounds like a by-product of her Scottish heritage and rolls out of the speakers with a steady sense of inevitability. Any experienced listener will know the path this song plans to take and hearing how well Muir gets there is one of the true joys with this track.

Orchestral influences exert a powerful hold over the title song. It’s the album’s final cut and Muir goes big with a delicately wrought and deeply personal song. She plays her powerful vocals off against an exclusively classical backing and it works without fail. It’s scarcely possible to imagine a better ending for this album. Too often bands or artists reach for that big moment on their final song, but often use too much strength when they should relax. There’s something proud and intensely confident about Muir’s performance on Second Life. - Lance Wright, Indie Music Review


30 Sep 2016 - Second Life (album)

26 Aug 2016 - The Other Side (single)

21 Dec 2015 - Like Warriors (single)

18 Jun 2015 - Believe the Impossible (single)

3 Mar 2015 - Book Cover Judge (album)

18 Nov 2014 - Seattle Mornin' (single)

11 Apr 2014 - Keep on Walking (single)

1 Mar 2014 - Four Acorns (EP)

10 Jul 2012 - Far From Entirely (album)



The greatest songwriters are seldom songwriters alone. Some are creative polymaths while others synthesize elements from an array of forms into a wider songwriting vision. Kathy Muir is more than a songwriter.” Jason Hillenberg, Music Emissions

Soulful balladeer Kathy Muir conjures enlightened songs that paint vivid landscapes of her journey as she transforms elements of pop, folk, jazz and the blues into brand-new sounds. Her warm, playful voice glides through lyrics that unfold like the words of an inviting diary and are joined by ethereal guitar melodies and rhythms of an orchestra of other instruments that help tell the story of her well-traveled life. 

Muir’s fine-tuned skills as a songwriter and a photographer as well as her willingness to share personal perspectives and bold emotions enrich her intimate, multidisciplinary approach to her art. And she honors creative innovators and her own folk heroes, including naturalist John Muir, painter Pablo Picasso, expansive pop and rock songwriters like Queen and Tangerine Dream and R&B goddesses Aretha Franklin and Robert Flack who have all shaped her style. 

Muir’s frequent collaborations with artists across media have allowed her to continuously evolve her work while extending the boundaries of singer/songwriter material into unexpected realms. Her new single, “Second Life” explores metamorphosis and change and celebrates her love of sweeping, dramatic ballads.

Muir has always been fascinated by the possibilities presented by humanity’s creative canvas and has dedicated herself to unearthing the rich spaces where visual art, music and poetry meet. Muir’s roots in spiritual songs have remained with her as she voyaged beyond Scotland, to France and ultimately Stamford, CT, where she now resides. 

Along the way, she has found her own inner voice as a songwriter and an organic approach that is inspired as much by her personal experiences as it is by her own boundless energy and pure imagination; the melodies flow through her, and she ties them together with delicate threads of chords and lyrics. 

A prolific and fastidious creator, Muir has released many musical and multi-media projects during her career, many of which were collaborations with other artists. One project of note was "Sweet and Easy", a song inspired by her love of John Muir and the pictorial style of The Seattle Camera Club (1924-1929). Muir also worked with high school photography students on her song “Keep on Walking” about the issue of homelessness in Miami; the video for the song featured arresting photographs they had taken of the homeless population in Miami. Muir’s single “Seattle Mornin" explored the evolution of relationships and offered up lyrics inspired by Pablo Picasso’s sense of surrealism and abstraction. One of Muir’s most recent project for her single “Like Warriors” was a community video made using photographs from the 1960s and 1970s provided by her neighbors in Edinburgh. More recently Pocketful of Sand was released (May 2017) in collaboration with an Instagram sketch artist.

In September 2016, Muir released her third album, “Second Life”. To mark the release she also released a music video for the song, which presented the work of a British pencil/sketch artist. She later released a music video for “Troubled Town,” which tells the story of her life in Connecticut as well as her life in Edinburgh. 

Muir continues to reinvent herself with July 2017 release of "2+2=4". While writing songs for this 4-track EP, Muir was listening to a lot of heartland folk with a dark edge. The songs are lo-fi in feel with authentic yet honest lyrics that meet the tone of the music. She will soon be releasing two more music videos for "2+2".

She has also completed seven songs in the studio and will be releasing this as singles over the next year. What makes these different is that Muir is releasing them as double a-sides: one hi-energy pop version and one acoustic version (with more than just a guitar).

Muir is also working on a personal project about the restoration of her father’s guitar. She is writing a song that she will play for the first time on it and filming footage of the luthier as he repairs it. 

Band Members