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The best kept secret in music

Press


"reverberating ripples"

Honest and tender, moving and heartfelt. Gentle Ravings Under a Martian Sky leaves the listener with a deep and reverberating ripple of satisfaction. Sating us with her smoldering voice and candid vision of life, Kathy Compton is a balm for the soul. With lyrics possessing an almost allegorical quality, they manifest a quiet a wisdom that comes from standing with one's self, noticing what appears to be life's big dramas, and gently, optimistically, moving forward; with just a touch of sass to keep it all real. Do not let her quiet and soft messages deceive, there lies a prevailing woman at the center of them, to inspire and sustain our own heart's longings. She's a sage for the ages.
Melanie Smart

- mackdaddy review


"gentle ravings"

Gentle Ravings Under A Martian Sky

A Review Of Kathy Compton

I have reached a few conclusions after listening to the new Kathy Compton album Gentle Ravings Under A Martian Sky. Compton is an outstanding versatile vocalist and I think she should cut a jazz album, and this is not to imply in any way that what she is doing is not valid because it is. Her voice is strong, irresistible, flexible and resilient, it has the kind of warmth and style that would be well suited for the jazz genre, and whether she did some standards or originals, I think it would be wonderful. Again, this does not detract from her current work; it is just my own personal thoughts and opinions on her capabilities as an all-around vocalist.

I enjoyed the entire album with the exception of the decidedly alternative-rock cover of “The Love Boat Theme,” which seems like an odd choice for this album but I am sure it was one of her favorite tunes that she always had the desire to record. I must say that I honestly do not think it did anything for putting her talent in a good light; it seems so out of place. She sounds off key while every other song on the album she is in her element totally and completely. If its rock-pop or an acoustic ballad with some electronic samples, it does not matter, she makes her voice a quintessential part of each song. Then there were songs that I loved like “Optisong,” “Demigods and Hot Wheel Rods” and the funky reflective “Grass Beneath My Feet.”

Compton has an enormously strong affinity for crafting a pop-rock tune with rhythm and emotion, at times she is literally hypnotic with the way she inflects her sweet voice while making the lyrics carry as much meaning as the music. For example, the reality check of “Grass Beneath My Feet” is thought provoking as she sings, “I am an illusion in my mind.” The grass serves as a reminder that solid ground is beneath her even though she can daydream about the meaning of love and life. It is all good stuff, charming and melodic music to tap your feet and snap your fingers to while actually making a conscious effort to think about what it is she is singing about…this is the stuff that makes the world spin on its axis. Sound Clips can be heard at CD Baby, the direct website link is http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kathycompton2. Also, please feel free to check out her record website at http://www.kathycompton.com.


By ©"Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
MuzikReviews.com

2004-04-06 - evolving artists


"subtle yet strong"

This is a fine collection of songs featuring Compton's subtle, but strong vocals. "Optisong" starts the CD off with a good, gentle rock feel. Other tunes, such as "Full Forces", slouch toward "silly love songs" (good sense). Easy on the ears and likely to cause one's toes to commence tapping. "Sunrise" is a moody, flowing tune. To break things up a bit, Compton does a nice sendup of "The Love Boat Theme". Campy, with a fun, good vocal styling. The song "Wilderness Of Sin" begins as a ballad with just vocal and acoustic guitar, then is smoothly fleshed out instrumentally. One sweet touch in it is the incorporation of some young girls joining in the chorus. "Over and over" is the smoky jazz tune in the pack. I think this is the area that Compton slips into best of all, she has the right feel and voice for the sultry, torch genre. I suspect there's enough steaminess there to make some connection with polar ice caps melting. The instrumental work on the CD is consistently on target. This release by Compton is worth more than a few good listens. (Luis Fiske)
- luis fiske, demorama


"sultry songstess on rock"

"Gentle Ravings Under a Martian Sky", 2003 Like Diana Krall, the musical and physical package that is Kathy Compton jibes well together in a very alluring way. Compton can do the sultry jazz songstress á la Krall as on her breathy vocal intros to "Wilderness of Sin" and "Hollow Day". But Compton is clearly more at home in the world of pop where she is able to resurrect the legacies of Madonna, The Cure and Stevie Nicks, all with an acoustic twist. © Alan Fark

- minor 7th, alan fark


"best album contender 2002"

Chances are you haven't yet heard of Kathy Compton. Well hopefully that will all change in the near future as Compton's debut album Recovering Humans is one of those releases that grabs you immediately. Certainly it should be a contender for one of the best albums of 2002. Sound interesting coming from a relative unknown? It shouldn't, considering the fact that Compton has honed her skills for the past few years in Manhattan before returning to her home of Charlottesville, Virginia to unleash her music upon the public.

Compton was raised in a music family of sorts. Her father played the accordion and banjo, and while growing up, the Compton's home was filled with the sounds of rock and bluegrass. But Kathy gravitated towards jazz during her school years, becoming a fan of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday. Having studied with jazz trumpeter John D'earth, Compton eventually met up with Ross Hoffman who had helped out such acts as Dave Matthews and Hanson. With a bit of coercion from Hoffman, Compton headed toward New York City for three years. There, she refined her musical and songwriting skills before heading back home to work on Recovering Humans.

And it is that time spent away with home, coupled with Kathy's love for other genres that certainly propels this album along. Compton is comfortable shifting gears and sounds within the eleven tracks here, never worrying about taking a chance and possibly getting it wrong. The lady is sharp and knows how to create powerful music. Indeed, the first song on the album, "The First Time" sounds so radio-ready that if it missed with the popular consensus, it would be downright confusing as to why. Amidst a powerful rock sound, Compton unleashes her tight technical prowess from the starting line.

But it's the little things that add up to the great picture on this album. Compton has a great voice that is reminiscent of Curve's Toni Halliday and her guitar work is impeccable. But under those obvious factors are the little things that Kathy injects into her songs. For example, the bridge of "The First Time" suddenly turns into this psychedelic, Beatlesque moment that comes and goes in a flash. It doesn't linger too long, but it's just enough to put the icing on the cake.

Elsewhere, there are the spooky choruses and eerie backing vocals of the title track, and the beautiful pleas of "I only want to be with you / I only want to be" at the end of the powerful "Wanted" that send Compton over the top, away from the "just another female musician" pile that often relies on its gender badge to promote coolness. Let's face it - Kathy Compton would be cool no matter what. Her songs, alternately gorgeous and just teetering on heartbreaking at times, are a testament to her great talent.

Helping Kathy out on Recovering Humans are Ross Hoffman on guitar and backing vocals, producer Kevin McNoldy on bass, guitar, and keyboards, Roderick Coles on drums, Craig Harmon on Hammond B3 and backing vocalist Andy Waldeck. Together, these guys produce a great sound along with Compton that doesn't function as a mere backing band. This unit is tight and alive and work together as a complete musical machine, bringing out the best in Kathy's songs. Coles is absolutely one of the best drummers I've ever heard, as he never lets things get away from him. His style is to the point, never flashy. And McNoldy and Harmon's keyboard work is outstanding as well, again providing just enough of a touch to complete the musical pictures without drowning anything out.

There's just so much to like here. Be it in the sexy, haunting sounds of "Talking to the Dead" and "Demons", or the spring-wound pop of "Immaculate Fruit" and "Good American", Kathy Compton is just fantastic. With a knack for writing both music and lyrics that cut to the chase and are free from any bullshit and a terrific band behind her, Compton should find plenty of fans with Recovering Humans. If nothing else, she's advancing the female rock star persona out a few feet more with her class, talent, and excellent work. Give this one a good spin and see if you don't become an instant fan of Kathy Compton's as well.

- Jason Thompson


- echo from esoterica


"a voice that needs wait for no one"

This is the formula of Kathy Compton’s first CD: It is a recipe of musical medicine. It is of and it is for... RECOVERING HUMANS.
Poured into a cardioid capacitor microphone - (the frying pan). Compton’s vocal salt, sugar and lyrical honey are heated to the boiling point (vocal-point) of rock/salt intensity, and then sung with just the right amount of vocal-edge (vinegar)…leaving the listener- wanting for more…

Distributed in these various chord progressions is Compton's unique quality of vocal-chord embellishment -- My translation: She is a rock-powered woman, singing, while under the influence of Jazz.

Holding together Kathy Compton’s vocals is the basic background of musical song -- guitar, bass, keyboards and drums -- with a well-placed special guest performance... (for dramatic effect) of a Hammond B3.

But it is percussionist Roderick Coles that propels Compton beyond the musical proof: "That a good voice waits for the song..." Wrong! Compton’s voice needs to wait - for no one!

RECOVERING HUMANS contains eleven tracks of well-written and produced material, with the minimum listening standards (the requirements) of at least three.

“Demons”! is a drum(ly) and lyrical song written for any listener who has ever enjoyed the poetic magic… of Edgar Allen Poe.

“Immaculate Fruit”, is an audio transformation, of Compton – into musical flesh.

And finally…the big bang explosion – “The Big Song”. I love this arrangement. It is music stacked on music into one big aural equation. It is twenty-first century (Compton style) Gregorian chants. It is jazz, rock and then, Georgian chants again…and I believe it is – A very big song!
RECOVERING HUMANS is available as over-the- counter CD medicine… no prescription necessary. So take your medicine, listeners -- and like it!

*****

- music-reviewer.com


"interview"

JT - In your bio you stated that the change of surroundings from Charlottesville to Manhattan was "pretty scary". An understandable leap! What was it like going from the relative comfort of home to the big city in terms of honing your craft? Were the open mic drills ever harrowing in terms of audience approval/disapproval, or did you face it with a brave face every time?

KC - It was definitely a leap! I hadn't really played out before going to the city. The open mikes gave me a wealth of experience though. My first one was in the east village. I told them I was making my NY debut and afterward they gave me a standing ovation! I would practice for hours on 2 songs before going out to clubs. I would get so nervous beforehand and come up with a million excuses why I didn't need to go.

In the end, it was always worth it. I got to see the whole spectrum of talent. People who were great and the one's who really should have stayed home and practiced a few more hours, but when they got up there, I was right there with them in terms of vulnerability. I guess the coolest thing about the open mikes is everyone is in the same boat. The talent may vary, but everybody is on equal footing, just wanting to have a chance to share their song.

JT - Before having the big city experience, did you feel that you were pretty much well adept at songwriting and playing music? Were there any things you had to "relearn", and was that a wakeup call, or were you expectant of having to develop more towards a moment where others thought you were ready to make an album?

KC - I had everything to learn. I had very few songs when I went up there. I could barely remember where the "one" was. I went out of tune, a lot. I was paranoid that the other musicians were making fun of me behind my back because they were so were so talented. Being in that city was like being in music boot camp. There is one guy I want to recognize during that period and that is Steve Gaboury. He was my producer who had a zen like patience with me. We never released any of the material we recorded during the NY period but one, a track called "Ultraviolet" is on a Vermont Festival compilation.

JT - I've seen a trend lately on the indie labels where a lot of strong female artists have been breaking out and offering up some really great music, yet on the major label front, I think maybe the number of those artists is dwindling, with the expected Alanis album coming out to less and less enthusiastic response, and whatnot.

Do you think that artists such as yourself are given a bit more free reign to produce the kind of music and lyrics that make your albums so great on a smaller label, that the majors might still be controlling 95% of the end product of their artists, even if they claim to give them more control, or do you think things are pretty even on both sides?


KC - I wish I could claim A.D.D. for that question, but I think I get the drift. Major labels. Hmmmm. I absolutely think you get more artistic freedom sans a major label, with the exception of a few artists whose labels really meant what they said when they mentioned "artistic development".

Little labels have all the free reign the want but there is a trade off, that being dollars for publicity, exposure, and distribution. The majors really could do a lot of good in this world if they could get their acts together. I do believe that most the people who work for them are running around like chickens with their heads cut off! And by the way, I think 95% of major label releases lose money.
JT - How did you come to work with Kevin McNoldy? I think his production is really great on Recovering Humans, brining the essence of a live performance to the mix, yet also giving it just the right counterbalance of studio feel.


There's that lush bridge in "The First Time" among other things that really give the songs an extra punch. He seems to have a great ear for bringing out the subtle nuances in your songs that provide just as much of a kick as the hooks.

KC - Kevin was working with a friend of mine and I was enchanted with the work he did. He had a studio only 15 minutes away if you take the back roads. He's a wonderful person to have producing your record. He's got just the right mix of cynicism and Disney going on and that came out on Recovering Humans. I think it has a sparkly feel to it, and we have Kevin to thank for that. He never shys away from using instrumentation if it's appropriate for the song, even if it is not the sound du jour.

I think that the nuances you refer to came out from him demanding the very best everyone had to offer. If I was calling in a vocal, he'd be right there to tell me I sounded like I was vacationing in the morgue and put me back on track. He is, I am happy to say, about to open a full service, state of the art studio called Crystalphonic in Charlottesville.

JT - For those who have not yet heard your songs, could you provide a bit of background as to what fueled your songwriting as far as subject matter? I don't think that the album is necessarily of the garden variety female artist singing songs of tough love and strength that these albums often unfortunately get pigeonholed into. I think there's a ton of strength in your words to be sure, but also a great imaginative streak that is missing from some of those "other albums".

KC - I always try to reach into my dreams when writing, and now that I consider it, I think we dream all the time. 24 hours a day. I, like I've heard so many others say, just try to get out of the way and let the song come out. It's not that easy. It's like breaking a safe every time. As for tough love- the human condition has enough inherent tragedy that I don't have to foment it in my personal life to have plenty of subject matter to work with.

JT - I have to say I have a friend who says she had possibly been introduced to you at a New Year's Eve party this past year, because I had mentioned your album to her when I first got it (she's from Charlottesville as well), and she said something to the effect of "Oh my God, I think I met her!" after seeing your website, and that you had mentioned your album was coming out soon at the time. How have things been since the grand release? Have you been establishing yourself in other cities as of yet, or has the touring been localized so far? And how has the audience reaction been?

KC - We recently engaged a publicist and that seems to help get the word out a lot. It's been difficult though. It takes a lot of momentum to get a new record and artist off the ground. I still need a booking agent! Right now, I am playing locally in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, and honey, let me tell ya, I'll play anywhere! I'm working on the nursing home circuit, a wonderful audience by the way!

My aim is to find my way overseas. I have a feeling they might take to my music a little more readily than here in the States. The audiences I have played to have been very receptive. I've been a shot out of the dark to a certain extent, so a lot of people still don't know who I am or what I'm about.
JT - You grew up in a family with a musical father and music playing in your household. And then you gravitated towards jazz in your school years. I think that's great to have that experience, because I grew up as a kid with older siblings who were in their teens when I was really small, and there was always great music playing, and my mom always loved music as well. And I remember going into this classical groove at around age 10.

How much of that love for jazz influenced the music on Recovering Humans? I think the influence is apparent in that there are some really great, profound moments lurking about in there that just take the songs away from a standard rock or pop classification into something a bit more different that we don't always hear on a "rock" album.

KC - I love jazz, the sultriness, the dissonance, the cleverness and smokiness. When I made Recovering Humans I hoped those qualities might come out, although my understanding of how jazz is made was very small in terms of chords and their progressions. I am currently studying jazz on guitar and look forward to hearing even more of those qualities on the next record.

JT - What is the most personal song on your album? Is it ever difficult to bring yourself either in the studio or in front of an audience to perform a song that might not be the easiest to do publicly, but the need is there to get it out of your system?


KC - I believe "Immaculate Fruit" is the closest to my heart. It was the second song I wrote in my life and over the past has gone through many changes. It's a trouper! I love the lyric of it too. I can feel entirely vulnerable singing almost any relatively slow tempo song. That's what I'm looking for, the payoff, to be metaphorically naked in front of strangers. I think that's what they want too.

JT - What do you want to give your audience that hears your music or comes to see you play live? What would be the best thing they could take with them after experiencing your work?

KC - I want to give them ,and have them leave, with something honest, new, and original. I want to do nothing less than make their hearts smile.

JT - Is Frosty Orange your own label, or did someone else create it? Are you currently working on any new projects to follow-up Recovering Humans, or are you enjoying promoting the debut album solely for the moment?

KC - I am Chief of Operations here at Frosty Orange, Purveyors of Good Vibrations since 2002. I am looking forward to getting back in the studio with a big batch of new songs. Right now is for promoting the debut record.

JT - Finally, do you have any advice for those musicians who might be embarking on a similar excursion that you followed? And what's the best thing about Charlottesville?

KC - It doesn't feel appropriate for me to give out advice to others when I feel I have much to learn. Maybe one thing: Luck only comes to those who are prepared. And Maybe one more thing too. It is good to know what grace means. And Finally: Dig that Golden Rule!

The best thing about Charlottesville: There's no place like home, there's no place like home…

Kathy Compton has her own home on the web with lots of info that you should definitely visit.







- jason thompson


"island jazz for space travellers"

This is almost Island Jazz for Space travelers. But there is so much Pop and Rock thrown in for Good measure that it’s Hard to tell. But it is a Lot of Fun.
- radio mike


Discography

-gentle ravings under a martian sky- released 2004, frosty orange records, full length lp, produced by roderick coles

-recovering humans- released 2002, frosty orange records, full length lp, produced by kevin mcnoldy

-radio play on numerous independent, public, and college staions, in the U.S. and abroad, FM and internet radio. 8 out of 11 songs from most recent release getting airplay. visit www.kathycompton.com for call letter listings

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Come closer. I want to whisper in your ear.
I wanted to be 3 things when I grew up, a pussycat, a witch and an astronaut. But as the days went by, my whiskers never grew, I never got a wand for Christmas and let's face it, and I just don't think I would pass the physical to get into NASA. So I became the next obvious choice, a singer and a songwriter. Searching for alchemical reactions through sound, purring into the mike and sending it into orbit.
The music I make is called pop jazz. Pop, because it can encompass an array of music. Gershwin, the Beatles were pop. Bach was pop in his day... the jazz comes from my irresistible desire to add 6th, 7th, 9th and 13th 's onto my chord structures. I can't help it. They are too sublime. And because of the way my vocal chords were born. I sing low. My voice has been described as sexy, sultry even. I was introduced to music through John Dearth. He played me the records of Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Nina Simone .... Music that is haunting, wistful, with glimmers of ecstasy throughout. The Greeks said that Beauty is terrifying, sometimes that's what I think of when I listen to jazz.
Because it's one of the first questions people ask, I will tell you what I sound like by telling you to whom I've been compared, among others, they are: Eva Cassidy (for repertoire), K.D. Lang, Karen Carpenter, Beth Orton (for songwriting and production), Peggy Lee, Keren Ann (we both are apt to whisper), Norah Jones (I hear this one a lot). And here are some of the things and people that I relish that might have had an influence on my music: Randy Travis (have you ever heard a more honest voice?), UK boys (The Police, David Gray, Van Morrison, U2, Badly Drawn Boy), M. Ward, Damien Rice, Postal Service, Eye Monster, Walt Disney and Wim Wenders films, the literature of Milan Kundera, Donna Tart, Roald Dahl, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, the Virginia countryside, the Bible (I am a recovering repressed Lutheran, I know that because of Praire Home Companion), and poppies (aren?t they pretty!)
I am an American in France. I came here because living in Europe has been a lifelong desire. And now, I am feeling in touch with the temporariness of it all. The fact that we are visitors to earth for such a short time is both terrifying and comforting. The paradox is everywhere. Like a beast you can only glimpse from the corner of your eye. It's in the stalking of such a creature that songs are born.
Facts and namedropping:
*Born in Washington DC
*Raised in Charlottesville Va
*Signed to Frosty Orange Records
*My manager, Ross Hoffman, is the same man who brought the world Dave Matthews and Hanson
*I sang everything on Gentle Ravings, in a fort, that my friend and producer Rod Coles made. The walls were made of mattresses and it was stocked with pillows, lollipops, my stuffed animals, and a special spill proof container for red wine. (if I have a vice, it's that, I love red wine, so if you come to a show and want to bring me a present, I suggest a nice bottle from the south west region of France, Chilean and Spanish wines I also adore)
*My previous employment has consisted of working for the Marlboro adventure team (I drove a truck painted up like a box of cigarettes and met an awful lot of illiterate people); got paid $20 an hour to walk a chicken on a leash in an art gallery; was a black jack dealer; played a nun in a Mia Farrow film (I comforted her by playing "oh little town of Bethlehem" on the bells, along with the girl from accounting); I painted twig arms on tin snowmen all summer long in order to make my second jaunt to Europe (my first jaunt was paid for by British Airways because I entered their contest 50 times and won); I was the stylist for Hanson when they were up for their first Grammy (as I waited in the wings, one of Aretha Franklin's musician's wished me good luck, "I hope you win" he said, my face burning with desire at the utterance of those words. I am certainly not above wanting the approval others); I have on numerous occasions played a drug addict or a woman with "a really bad headache" for medical students (I loved that job! I felt like I was doing my civic duty to improve the bedside manner of future doctors everywhere). And finally, one of my favorite things to do, recording for the blind, (that is a kicking job, sitting in a darkened little cubby, with headphones and mike, recording your own voice and knowing that one day soon, there will be a blind person learning all about the civil war because you told them it was so)
*In addition to guitar, I play piano, accordion, and vibraphone
*I am deathly allergic to bees, so if you want to kill me and get away with it, it would not be hard to do
*You might be tired after reading so many fun facts... listening to music is a much more fun thing to do anyway.