Vanessa Kafka
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Vanessa Kafka

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Rumors Heard in MySpace, Episode 5"

If you're in the mood for something a little different, something to help you kick back and enjoy your summer yet still touch your heart, check out this vastly talented young singer/songwriter Vanessa Kafka. In her soft, poignant songs you'll hear traces of Natalie Merchant, Suzanne Vega and an old Ripple favorite, Jann Arden. Working with the good folks at Aberrant Sound in Concord Mass, Vanessa is due to release her debut album this fall, but lots of tracks are available for listen on her myspace page. One early morning, I started my day by walking the dog, tending to my garden, and then perusing the web with Vanessa's tunes as accompaniment, perfectly setting the mood as I eased into my day. "Silhouette," "If He Stays," and "Tell Me So," are the early Ripple picks, but you be the judge and let us know your choices. We expect big things from her in the future. - The Ripple Effect

""Into Place" Album Review"

Now that we’re approaching the anniversary of our first full year of Ripple service, The Pope, Rock Iguana and I have been around long enough to anticipate new releases from some of our earlier discovered Ripple favorites. Already, bands like Mountain Mirrors, Heavy Water Experiments, Braintoy and Dream Aria have followed up early releases with newer, grander albums. And now, perched poetically on the edge of my desk here at the Ripple office, sits the long-awaited, brand new release from one of our favorite singer-songwriters, Vanessa Kafka.

It was way back in June that we first heard the dreamy tones of Vanessa’s musical creation, alerted by her friend Kristen at Aberrant Sound/Brewhouse Records and it didn’t take more than a few listens to her myspace offerings for me and the Pope to recognize that we were tuning in to something special. Three months later, with the release of her debut full-length CD, Into Place, Vanessa just went ahead and surpassed our grandest expectations.

A singer gifted with a voice of uncommon beauty, Vanessa has crafted a dreamy, atmospheric yet rootsy, heart-felt collection of telling and poignant songs. Early Ripple favorites “Silhouette,” “If He Stays,” and “Tell Me So,” sit comfortably with new songs like “Better,” creating a CD full of power, romance and touching splendor. The impeccably clean production never loses its warmth or intimacy, drawing you into the vastness of Vanessa's heart, fully exposed on this album. Like a fire crackling on a cold winter's night, Vanessa beckons to you, drawing you in, wrapping around you in a cocoon of dreamy melodies. Like the fire, her music is naked and slightly dangerous, yet comforting and mesmerizing. Raw, yet refined. It is the music of emotion, hers and ours, shared and individual, personal and universal.

Blessed with a voice that fits somewhere between Suzanne Vega, and Natalie Merchant, with traces of the mournful intonations of Sarah McLachlan, Vanessa has no difficulty carrying the heart-wrenching emotion of her songs. Accompanied by a top-notch group of musicians, including her producer and guitarist, Brian Sargent, the music comes to life effortlessly around her, like a field of clouds carrying her in its wispy path through tales of broken hearts, shattered dreams, and ultimate hope.

“Speak in Words,” starts us off on our journey through Vanessa’s heart, delicate and fragile, riding on the muted notes of a single guitar. As the band kicks in, so does the power of Vanessa’s voice. Sounding strongly reminiscent of Natalie Merchant on this track, the verses build in intensity, the band growing in fervor, Vanessa’s voice rising in power as she searches for a lost connection with her lover. A dynamite opening track, revealing the full intention of where Vanessa plans to take us with this disc.

“Better,” packs solid hooks into its dramatic guitar playing, hinting at Jewel without the coy preciousness. Then “Silhouette,” picks up the pace, riding a toe-tapping beat, jaunty guitar strumming and a melody as sweet as cotton candy. As “Sink,” slows things down a bit, listen for the absolutely perfect transition from that track to the slightly, down-home funky “Forgery.” I had to replay my CD player 3 or 4 times to fully absorb the subtle beauty of that mood change. Dig the loosely-strung guitar playing and Vanessa’s voice as she gets just a little bit mean and nasty. No two ways about it, that track is a winner and will be undulating from the Ripple speakers for a long time to come. The vaguely Suzanne Vega-esque vocal phrasing of “If He Stays,” follows, a shimmering piece of rootsy pop perfection.

Into Place isn’t a rocking album, not something to accompany your nights shooting pool with the boys or watching NASCAR with your friend the plumber, but it’ll be a damn fine listen the morning after. An album to listen to, to mediate over, to use as your own catharsis, discovering emotions that perhaps you never took the time to express yourself. I could go on about each song, but that may dampen your own thrill of discovery, so I’ll call it here. Just know that a new voice is in town that just demands to be heard. So grab a hot cup of tea, sit with your dog on the back deck, scratching him behind the ears in time to the drums, watch the hummingbird flutter back and forth in your flower garden and sit a while with this one. Let it enter you. Let it fill you.

You just might find out something about yourself in the process.

--Racer - The Ripple Effect

"Kafka's Confessional Lyrics Fill 'From the Backroom'"

Vanessa Kafka is not your typical UConn student. After all, how many typical college students have released three albums, and get the opportunity to be the opening act for one of their musical influences?

Kafka is a Tolland native who has been playing guitar since the seventh grade, and wrote her first songs in 10th grade. Kafka has since released two independent discs - 2002's "Eye of the Beholder" EP and 2003's "Barefoot." Her third will be available this weekend.

Kafka's latest release, "From the Backroom," is a five-track collection of solo acoustic songs. One of the common threads through the album is love, more specifically losing love. The opening song "Silhouette" highlights Kafka's brawny, mature voice. Her voice has a bit of a country twang, and though she lacks a heavy Irish accent, her voice on this particular track evokes the same feeling as that of Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries. Her voice is strong, and "Silhouette" shows just how much power it possesses.

"Box of Matches," on the other hand, is a quiet tune which focuses more on Kafka's gift for vocal melody, as opposed to the sheer brawn of her voice. Her confessional lyrics are simple, but grip you into listening further.

"I took a bath in bourbon and then came back/and when you're not looking/I'll mix in the prescription/and I'll drug you up ... When love is someone's gift/for another it's a prison"

With such a bold voice, it would be easy enough for her guitar work to be masked. However, Kafka seems to have found a balance that works perfectly for her. She uses the guitar to accent her voice, as opposed to attempting intricate melodies that would overshadow her impressive voice.

"Wondering" is another quieter song from Kafka that is hardly lacking in vocal strength. Her voice resonates through your head when she hits the crescendo of the song. Kafka's voice shines on this track, with deep personal lyrics keeping in the vain of heart-wrenching love songs.

"What if I told you you made me believe that you were an angel?/But I was deceived; you're only human, flesh and bones ... What if I told you that you weren't perfect for me? ... What if I told you that you were an angel?/and I am only human?"

Kafka's voice and lyrics make for an incredibly personal listening experience. Her five-song EP "From the Backroom" shows the intimate side of this UConn student. Her deeply personal lyrics are incredibly easy to relate to for anyone who has had a relationship gone awry. Her lyrics are clever, her voice strong and gripping, her guitar playing subtle and yet captivating. Kafka states on her website that she would eventually like to be labeled as "witty with a hint of mystery." Her confessional lyrics on "From the Backroom" have helped her to achieve just that.

Kafka will be opening for Matt Nathanson Saturday night at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $10 for students, $15 for non-students. Kafka's latest album "From the Backroom" will be available for purchase the night of the show.
- The Daily Campus

"Kafka, Nathanson Prove To Be Crowd Pleasers"

Matt Nathanson and UConn student Vanessa Kafka wowed the audience Saturday at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. The two left the crowd satisfied with their acoustic guitar sets.

Clad in a Motorhead T-shirt and a nose ring, Nathanson - who had at UConn last winter opening for Ryan Cabrera - opened with his hit love ballad "Suspended," and promised the audience "we're gonna make sweet love."

Although not a full house, the crowd made its presence known by screaming comments such as "you're hotter than Ryan [Cabrera]."

The audience mainly consisted of high school and college-aged students, which was a relief since much of Nathanson's conversation with the audience was adult-oriented. The demographically appropriate jokes elicited a positive response from concert-goers.

Nathanson played a set consisting of a few new songs that will be on his upcoming album, "Beneath These Fireworks." He warned the audience it was his first time playing these pieces solo so "if it sounds a little weird, it probably is."

As Nathanson passionately strummed his guitar, and the listeners responded with positive feedback to his newly penned songs.

According to Nathanson, lyrics are the last item he adds to a composition.

"Lyrics are the most important part and they take a long time to become what they want to become," Nathanson said during a pre-show interview.

The set included songs from his previous albums such as "Lucky Boy," "Church Clothes," "Princess" and "Bend," a song in which Nathanson had recently confessed to his inspiration for this song that it was about a woman from his past.

Along with his original work, Nathanson also did covers of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and Cat Stevens' "Wild World."

Nathanson's tour was originally planned to start in New Orleans, but due to Hurricane Katrina, "we're starting our tour in Orlando," Nathanson said.

Over the summer, Nathanson has been putting the finishing touches on his upcoming albums, one of studio recordings and one of live performances.

"The acoustics were very powerful and his voice was very passionate and raw," said Stephanie Chivers, a 7th-semester coaching and administration major.

Kafka, a 7th-semester operations and information management major, gave a crowd-pleasing performance.

Much of the audience attended the show to show their support for Kafka.

"She was absolutely awesome," said concertgoer Nina Hansen, who was there to see Kafka.

Kafka's 20-minute set included songs such as "Gold," a cover of Natalie Imbruglia's "Left of the Middle," and the apparent crowd favorite "Silhouette."

Saturday's performance was the largest venue in which Kafka has played, receiving a standing ovation at the end.

Not only did the crowd have a good time, Kafka said she also "definitely had fun, overwhelmingly fun."

Kafka mingled in the lobby in between sets while she signed CDs and spoke to fans.
- The Daily Campus

"Kafka, Dollar Ignite the Hilltop Scene"

As the rain continued to fall Thursday Night, many students ventured up to the Hilltop Apartment Community, not to party but instead to hear the musical musings of two exceptional University of Connecticut student musicians at the "Coffee House," a program sponsored by Hilltop Apartment and Alumni Community Assistants. The lights were dimmed, the coffee was brewing, and the bohemian atmosphere that overtook the community center evoked the feeling of a small, trendy café one would find in the heart of New York City.

Vanessa Kafka, a 7th-semester operations and information management major, opened the night with reflective ballads that set the mood for the evening. Incorporating new, original pieces such as "Gold" showcased the diverse talents students at UConn have to offer. As usual, the performance ended with the well-known song "Silhouette," which has become so popular some attendees sang along with her.

Many followers came out in support of Kafka, who is becoming a household name as a result of such performances as opening for Matt Nathanson at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts last month.

"You know Vanessa's big when they start singing her lyrics," Helen Wong, a 5th-semester Molecular and Cell Biology Major said.

Also featured at the "Coffee House" was Mandy Dollar, a 7th-semester theatre studies major. Dollar, who is relatively new to the performance scene around campus, also continued with the reflective feel of the evening. Opening with an original song entitled "True Self," she turned real-life experiences into a song filled with passion and angst. Concluding with a cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," Dollar got the audience going with a sing-along that made everyone feel as though they were a part of the show.

Besides her musical talent, Dollar also proved that she has a real presence while performing. Commenting on the "Seattle Weather" and how it was "'the songs I don't know yet' theme of the night"; she kept the audience engaged and gave them a little taste of her upbeat and lively personality.

"I was really surprised she was so amazing," Rebecca Conrad, a 5th-semester molecular and cell biology major said. "We hadn't heard of her before."

Joelle Bergeron, a 7th-semester HDFS major and follower of Dollar, said that she had a different sound than other performers.

"She had a really unique sound to her," Bergeron said. "It's a mix of Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple."

Brenda Guajardo, a 7th-semester spanish education major and CA in Hilltop Apartments, was pleased with the turnout the program she helped plan drew. "I think it went great," she said. "We had a great turnout. Not only did we have Hilltop Apartment residents, but we had residents from all over campus."
- The Daily Campus

"1st Place In Radio 92.9s City Steps!"

Vanessa's single "Silhouette" landed 1st place in Radio 92.9s City Steps Competition on OurStage. She was chosen by fans out of 160 Massachusetts bands. - OurStage/Radio 92.9FM


"Into Place" - Sept. 16th, 2008 on Brewhouse Records

"From the Backroom", 5-track EP, 2005

"Barefoot", 11-track CD, 2003

"Eye of the Beholder", 5-track demo, 2002



A fan once said of Vanessa's music, "If my soul could sing, this is exactly what it would say". Revealing lyrics about broken love, being reckless, and new beginnings instantly grab your attention. Her dynamic yet soothing sweet voice combined with her unique guitar tunings create a sound that brings back memories. Vanessa writes songs that are bold and fearless in exposing her emotions. Vanessa says, "When people hear this album for the first time, I can only hope that it helps them make sense of their emotions. Of the fears and doubts that hold them back. Life is too short for regrets. It's all about taking chances. This album is my leap into uncertainty."

Deeply-felt, Vanessa's Brewhouse Records debut, Into Place, is very much an album of unique, yet shared experiences. Backing Vanessa is Brian Sargent (electric guitar, vocals), Rohin Khemani (drums, percussion) and Marc Hickox (bass). Imagine warm musical tones exuding from the stage creating a dreamlike atmosphere where the listener can drift away to the melodies. That's what it's like to attend one of Vanessa's shows.

Band Members