Katya Chorover
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Katya Chorover

Cortez, Colorado, United States | INDIE

Cortez, Colorado, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk

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"Katya, Rising Star"

Those nice people at Hearth Music over in Portland, Oregon very kindly sent me a copy of "Big, Big Love", the newish album by Katya Chorover.

Katya is a new name to me, but it turns out this is her third album. However there was a ten year gap between this and the last one, which might explain her lack of visibility outside the North West USA. I don't have much to say other than its exactly the sort of folk/country mix I like, she has a great voice, some good songs, and the album is highly recommended. As - judging by the free downloads you can pick up at her website - are her two earlier albums.


- 27 leggies


"Katya Chorover: Big Big Love"

Katya Chorover eases into her recent release with the title song 'Big Big Love.' Her voice has a bit of Emmylou, and a bit of Stevie Nicks. I like the rhythmic chops behind this song. It's not crowded, but each of the instruments has a place, especially the electric guitar by Matt Brown. Moving from the Pacific Northwest to Colorado may have only affected Chorover's opportunities. We can probably still claim her and many of these songs were written here.

'Movin On' puts the lyrics on country twang and the rhythm to a danceable two step. Again the electric guitar pumps up the volume for the instrumental break. The harmonies are good and ragged. This is full band effect, with a solid drummer in Ezra Holbrook. 'Little Bird' uses Katya's falsetto to a marching beat accompanied by hoedown fiddle played by Analisa Tornfelt. Katya plays acoustic and electric guitars; Jesse Emerson plays bass; Dan Tyack is on pedal steel and dobro; and Zak Borden sneaks in on mandolin. 'Brother Flower' is a Townes Van Zandt tune "Brother Flower are you listening...Brother Flower may I stay...." Pedal steel is quite interesting on this track, almost like a church organ.

'Possession' is a darker sounding blues and allows Chorover's voice to soar. "I taste your salt on my skin...and I feel your breath on my hair. If I can't have you I'm wrecked and I'm blue." 'Cavalries of Love' is anchored with the rhythm section and could stomp through deep snow. 'Little Bird' and 'Cavalries' are proof Katya is determined to write her own kind of songs and sing from within. "...won't you let me in." 'It Wasn't Me' is refreshing for the empty spaces and interesting poetry. The lyrics emphasize the last syllable, making you wait. Paul Brainard's muted trumpet is used for effect.

Ewan MacColl's 'Dirty Old Town' is a nice, bouncy addition and probably my favorite track. Jenny Conlee-Drizos plunks the funky piano on this. "I kiss my love by the factory wall...dirty old town." 'Brand New Day' is meaningful with soulful harmonies: "Tomorrow is written on the breath of today." Chorover shows a good sense of poetic meter. 'Whiskey Clouds' moves back toward the dance beat of the title song – probably the best medium for this full voiced Colorado transplant and her words. It's a keeper.

[J.W. McClure] - Victory Review


"The Grateful Web Interview with katya Chorover"

This past Friday, as another unseasonably warm sun sunk behind the Rocky Mountains, Katya Chorover settled into Denver’s Gypsy House Café to celebrate the release of her new album “Big Big Love”. Chorover’s first album in ten years is filled with sweet and sour beginnings and endings. Vocally, Chorover’s a powerhouse, reminiscent of soulful country legends Lucinda Williams and Iris Dement. Chorover’s voice is like your first sip of whiskey, the one you feel in freefall until it lands with a clunk in the pit of your stomach. Her voice is then illuminated by her lyrical prowess. Chorover, like all great song writers, has the unique ability to plant a vivid image in the mind of her audience. In this new album Chorover often sings about, as she puts it, “the cyclical ebb and flow found in nature”. She creatively correlates the migratory patterns of birds to the mortality of man. Before the performance I asked Chorover if she would respond to a few questions on a variety of topics with the hopes of gaining insight into the world through her eyes. She kindly agreed:

Grateful Web: For "Big Big Love" you collaborated with several artists including co-producer Casey Neill, Chet Lyster (Lucinda Williams, The Eels), Matt Brown (She and Him), Townes Van Zant and Ewan McColl. You also recorded the album in five days. What was your experience working with so many musicians in such a short time period?

Chorover: Casey Neill, my friend, and co-producer on Big Big Love, lives in Portland, and has a successful songwriting/recording career. He set me up with a group of unbelievably talented, unbelievably nice people to record this project last winter. What I’m proudest of, is that we sat down in a room together and made this record live, with all the basic tracking done in 5 days, (with assorted session players coming in over a couple more weeks). Though it was fast and loose, the record has, to me, a nice balance of polish and rough edges. I was pretty hungry for the communion you get making music with other people when I went into the studio that week, and I feel eternally grateful to all of them for the gift of how FUN those sessions were... Chet Lyster, who mixed the record, also has a lot to do with the final sound and vibe, blending the best pieces of several live takes of each song, and adding bits of studio-magic dust.

Katya ChoroverGW: This is your first album in ten years. What have you been up to?

Chorover: I moved from Seattle where I had been for nearly 20 years, with my husband and our (then) 3 year old daughter to SW Colorado in 2006 for a job. I had tried to get a recording going before I left Seattle, but wasn’t able to. When we got down here, I played some locally, but I sort of stepped off the radar for a few years to adjust to this new place, and went back to teaching kids, and focused on parenting. I’m glad I waited, because it gave me time to woodshed, to write, and to listen to different music, and be part of an entirely different culture. The rusty dusty country here had some time to seep in to the writing and the music.

GW: Before hearing a single note from "Big Big Love" I assumed it would be filled with songs about being content, fulfilled, and well - being in love. However, in this album you often sing about the tireless yet inevitable process of change. For example, the lyric "We cannot change time, we can only change our mind" from the track "Movin' On". Is "Big Big Love" more about searching for love than actually being in love?

Chorover: I think it’s about the impermanence of love, or maybe the cyclical nature of it ---how it ebbs and flows. Also the ongoing attempt to appreciate it fully in the moments when it’s there. The title track (Big Big Love) was written for a beautiful, lively 36 year old friend of mine who passed away suddenly right after I first moved here. We crossed paths for just a few months, and then she was gone, and I still miss her and wish she was here. Change—as you say, the inevitable process.

GW: What was the last album you purchased? Any good?

Chorover: Bruce Springsteen’s new one, Wrecking Ball. YES!!!

GW: Some reviews have described your sound with adjectives like poetic, delicate, and graceful. What adjective(s) would you use to describe yourself?

Chorover: searching, loving, busy, dreamer, cranky.

GW: If you could have any superpower what would it be? Why?

Chorover: To FLY!!!!! Me and birds, we have a thing.

GW: One of my favorite lyrics is "you will dream smoky dreams on whiskey clouds". Is whiskey your drink of choice?

Chorover: Actually, yes, if I’m drinking the hard stuff, which I don’t do that often. I also am fond of a good glass of wine. That song was actually written about a guy who is imagined, living life on the road.

GW: If you could be any historical figure who would you be? Why?

Chorover: Do they have to be dead? If not: Aretha Franklin. Because she’s the Queen of Soul. Bono seems to have a pretty badass life, too.

GW: Who would win in a fight between Denver International Airport's blue bronco and legendary Denver Bronco's quarterback John Elway?

Chorover: HA! Had to Google DIA’s bronco and read a 2009 article. I am quite sure he’d stomp the competition.

Surrounded by new faces, loved ones, and seventies era couch cushions, Chorover played an intimate set at the Gypsy House Cafe. She bounced from acoustic to electric and opened with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”. Although this new album could simply be considered country, Chorover is more complex. She is an interesting hybrid of folk and soul that directs my fingers towards the Americana record isle. For example, Chorover’s lyrics in “It Wasn’t Me” are reflective of the authentic expression of life, love, and culture as she sings, “revolution, evolution shedding my skin I am born again”. In this same track she is accompanied by a soft horn section that provides a slight jazz influence.

While the wine bottles emptied and the candlelight danced, Chorover paused between songs to share their origin. She shares that the song, “Off the Map” from her previous 2001 album with the same name, was written while she and her husband were exploring some abandoned back roads of Colorado. She carefully describes the strange feeling of wholeness she experienced while completely isolated from the rest of the world.

As the moon traded places with the sun, Chorover gracefully closed her set. This was her first stop on a two and a half week tour. She will be traveling through much of Colorado and then onto more of the north west. She will be playing a full band show on the main stage at the Dolores River Festival on June 2 in Dolores, Colorado. - Grateful Web.com


"Festival Frenzy Recap"

Katya Chorover is a Colorado singer-songwriter who took a ten year break from her last album to record this gem Big Big Love. Recorded in Portland with past and present Decemberists and some of the best root's musicians the city has residing there, this is a great album filled with acoustic guitar, mandolins, fiddle, piano, dobro and pedal steel. Her vocals are strong as are the songs, and it features Townes' cover too. - No Depression


"Steal This Track: Katie Glassman and Katya Chorover"

Though Chorover’s twangy delivery places her squarely in a country and Americana tradition, her songs have soul that seems to be drawn from blues and gospel music. With aching honesty, goose bump harmonies and simple strength, the veteran musician emerges from her hiatus with a record that will introduce her to a a whole new world of fans. - Denver Post/ Hey Reverb.com


"Katya Chorover: Big Big Love"

...practically defines ‘What’s Not To Like?,’ ... Blessed with a huge contralto, Chorover doesn’t just have power and range to spare, her voice is wonderfully expressive, brimming with emotional depth, as are her nine originals, particularly Movin’ On and Little Bird. She even scores points with her covers, Townes Van Zandt’s rarely recorded Brother Flower, and Ewan McColl’s Dirty Old Town (which Van Zandt himself also covered). On top of all this, she’s superbly served by producer Casey Neill, who delivers a crisp, wide open spaces sound behind her. I know nothing about Portland’s A-list musicians, but will happily take the one-sheet’s word for it that these handpicked musos are the cream of the local crop. JC - 3rd Coast Music Magazine


"Katya Chorover: Big Big Love"

It’s been a decade since Katya Chorover released her last album –– in that time she’s left behind the state of Washington, trading it for new digs in Colorado, and teamed up with Portland, Oregon’s Casey Neill, who co-produced this record and assembled players such as Jenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists) and Matt Brown (She and Him). Naturally pedigree isn’t everything –– there have to be killer performances and wicked good songs. Worry not. Both are here in spades. With an atmosphere that recalls Roseanne Cash at her best as well as early Lucinda Williams and a dash of the best Nanci Griffith records, Big Big Love’s best moments include “Movin’ On”, “Cavalries Of Love”, and “Whiskey Clouds”. Chorover has a flair for old country and a knack for good story –– her cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Brother Flower” is particularly deft. - popmatters.com


Discography

How this Feels, 1993
The Clearing, 1998
Off the Map, 2001
Big Big Love, October, 2011

Photos

Bio

"It’s been a decade since Katya Chorover released her last album –– in that time she’s left behind the state of Washington, trading it for new digs in Colorado, and teamed up with Portland, Oregon’s Casey Neill, who co-produced this record and assembled players such as Jenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists) and Matt Brown (She and Him). Naturally pedigree isn’t everything –– there have to be killer performances and wicked good songs. Worry not. Both are here in spades. With an atmosphere that recalls Roseanne Cash at her best as well as early Lucinda Williams and a dash of the best Nanci Griffith records, Big Big Love’s best moments include “Movin’ On”, “Cavalries Of Love”, and “Whiskey Clouds”. Chorover has a flair for old country and a knack for good story –– her cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Brother Flower” is particularly deft. " -Pop Matters

It took a move from the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest to the dry, high deserts of Southwestern Colorado for Katya Chorover to find the inspiration she needed to complete her first album in ten years, Big Big Love. That’s a long time to wait for any artist, and though she was busy writing and living her life, she’d taken a long hiatus from performing. But the sounds of country music radio that rolled through the canyons of her home in Cortez, Colorado, subtly infused her new songs with a kind of dusty, rusty twang.

With a long history of songwriting in the Northwest, where her insightful lyrics and beautifully crafted melodies helped her stand far out from the pack of singer-songwriters, Katya returned to Portland, Oregon, to work with producer Casey Neill, an acclaimed songwriter himself, to record Big Big Love. Neill helped line up a host of Portland’s hottest roots musicians in a city that’s known as a hub for a new folk music revival, including two early members of the Decemberists, Jesse Emerson on bass and Ezra Holbrook on drums, and current Decemberist Jenny Conlee-Drizos on piano. Other musicians include Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) on fiddle, Matt Brown (She and Him) on guitar, Dan Tyack on pedal steel and dobro, and Zak Borden on mandolin.

The full band sound showcases Katya’s beautiful, crisp vocals, surrounding her voice with a forest of acoustic instruments and electric steel guitar The result is an album as delicately balanced as a desert rock pile, with one foot in the acoustic country music Katya’s grown to love, and another foot in the innovative Northwest roots music scene that she helped build years ago.

Big Big Love comes out of the gate with the title song, a beautiful waltz, singing “Come and paint me a picture/of a tranquil scene/a pond/a rowboat/a peaceful dream.” Even with electric guitar and drums, “Big Big Love” could nearly be a country lullaby. In fact, much of Katya’s new material came from her “parenting hiatus.” “Since having a child, my life has slowed, and changed immeasurably,” she says. “Continuing to be creative has been a challenge, but also has become somehow richer and even more pleasurable.” You can hear this new burst of creativity in a song like “Little Bird,” that plays with rhythm, spinning around and around the melody, or in the song “Cavalries of Love” that incorporates a beautiful trumpet line into a soaring song of hope.

Of course, the real star of the album is Katya’s voice. Her singing is so clear and beautiful, with just the slightest hint of a rough edged twang. Despite being a native Bostonian, then a long-time Seattleite, there’s a natural grace to her country sound. Her love for roots music is evident throughout the new album, and her poetic songwriting coupled with a deep traditional sound has garnered her a devoted fan base. As she opens with the words “Big big love, big big heart, big wide spirit sets you apart,” we can only feel the same big, big love right back at her, and we’re sure you will too. - Hearth Music, Seattle, WA.

"Don't pass up a chance to see her perform!" — NW Folksters