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Sharron Kraus – KIN – Folk Radio United Kingdom

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Sharon Kraus

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Nightshade Records

October 9, 2022

band camp

KIN is the essence of Sharon Kraus. His first album since 2018 The reflection of joy is sorrow; it is, in many ways, a continuation of this superb record. Joy’s Reflection dealt with the important themes of grief and emotional healing in an open and refreshing way, an unusual achievement for an artist working in the often obscure psych-folk vernacular. Listening to him was a hypnotic, sometimes mind-blowing experience, as you would expect from a musician who has worked with Fursaxa and Espers before, but deep down it was surprisingly human and all the more beautiful. If KIN is in some ways a sequel, it’s a sequel born out of a changed world. His songs were primarily written during the Covid pandemic, and many of them obliquely reflect themes like isolation, separation, family ties, and the human need to interact with the natural world.

KIN differs from its predecessor in its overall feel – and from most of Kraus’ earlier works – in its musical openness. The maximalism that characterizes the bizarre-folk sound is stripped down here, meaning that one can perceive all the intricacies of Kraus’ art, both lyrically and musically. Layers are exposed and there’s a startling nudity to the overall sound, which makes the album’s emotional heart all the more accessible. The musical base isn’t too different – ​​maybe there are more synths than before and an absence of woodwind and violin – but the arrangements are more precise. This will no doubt lead to comparisons with the likes of Jane Weaver or the Ghost Box Records-adjacent haunting axis that runs from Broadcast to Belbury Poly (with whom Kraus recorded a wonderful concept album on Chanctonbury Ring in 2019). But Kraus’ work always seems more aligned with real, emotional, and physical landscapes.

Opener tell me death starts with a whirlwind of electric guitar and organ that seems to be cut from the same cloth as classic folk-rock or else Cate Le Bon’s melodious update on the genre, and it’s certainly Kraus at his most melodic . But the depth of sadness and hope in the lyrics is allowed to flourish through this apparent simplicity, even if it transcends it.

The ways we hurt is sonically more complex, introduced by Guy Whittaker’s tremulous drumming and ambushed by sneaky, satisfying electronic glitches and rubbery bass. It all comes with an opening, production-wise, that’s almost trippy in its weird sense of space, and Kraus’ vocal delivery is almost like an anthem: the structures of some of these songs are almost like physical spaces, chapels perhaps, or wooded glades, or phosphorescent caves. KIN is imbued with this desire to reconnect with the outside world. Sometimes it’s explicit, sometimes it’s not said.

The world in the world is a perfect example of this: the Delia Derbyshire-esque synth washes introduce a lovely self-contained miniature of a song that somehow seems to expand exponentially in all directions without ever losing its focus. There’s a lively percussive urgency to Do it yourself it’s like an itch, while gloopy synths crawl like lysergic slugs and Kraus sings of loneliness and death. It’s not easy to listen to, lyrically, but it’s compelling. The trees keep growing offers a moment of levity, with chiming guitars and slapping cymbals, but there is something eerie at the heart of the song, a sense of distance between humans and the natural world, a difficult bridge to cross. The span of a human life – a life lived in solitude – seems to haunt these songs; their eldritch beauty is of a decidedly understated variety, and despite the space created by the production, Kraus is able to activate claustrophobia at any moment.

At the beginning of the second half of the album, The walled garden is one of his most powerful moments. The lyrics sound both symbolic and literal, and the vocals have a frightened, whispered echo, so the song starts to feel like the ghost of itself. Ethereal screams and hoots complete the gloriously eerie nighttime tableau. Elsewhere, the strangeness makes itself known in a more subtle way. Weft and Warp has an almost balladic structure, with soft and ample synths, but the strange detachment and the almost surreal lyrics point to a dreamlike state, a need to embrace otherness.

Kraus is capable of some deceptively cute sidesteps. More of your thoughts has a jazzy, bouncy bassline (courtesy Neal Heppleston) that wouldn’t feel out of place played behind an Audrey Horne stage at Twin Peaks, and as the lyrics speak of a need for human contact, the synths rumble a cautious warning. It’s deliciously misleading.

But there is an underlying seriousness to all of this, the poignancy of which crossed with you does well to highlight, while the final track, A nice kind (of human), is a passionate defense of altruism. Psych folk has long provided an outlet for strange flights of fancy, and Kraus is as accomplished as anyone else in that regard, but here she also harnesses the genre’s ability to deal with larger concerns. . Impressively, she managed to weave the two threads – seriousness and weirdness – together into one of the most rewarding, accomplished and moving albums of the year.

KIN is now available – Order through Bandcamp

Upcoming Live Dates

October 24
Notes and Sounds at The University Arms, 197 Brook Hill, Sheffield, S3 7GH
Solo Improv Ensemble

November 13
theater studioSheffield
Performs “Swift Wings” with Justin Hopper

November 15
Bishops HouseSheffield

November 24
The Victoria TheaterFountain Street, Halifax

1st December
The cube4 Princess Row, Bristol BS2 8NQ

Website: https://sharronkraus.com/