Archive for the Karen Reynolds Category

A Little Knox Music: Read the Book by Karen E. Reynolds

Posted in Karen Reynolds, Knoxville Music on December 6, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

As the host of The Writer’s Block on WDVX, Karen Reynolds follows me on the air every Wednesday night.  The Writer’s Block plays nothing but original songs by independent artists, and Reynolds has been the show’s host for nearly 13 years.  She’s been a very good friend to below-the-radar artists for a very long time.

Part of the reason she cares so deeply about those independent artists is that she is one herself.  Reynolds is a veteran of the singer/songwriter circuit and wears many hats in addition to hosting and performing.  When she isn’t behind the radio mic or playing gigs, Reynolds teaches collaborative children’s songwriting classes at The Country Music Hall of Fame, hosts and judges various singer/songwriter competitions, and serves as Vice President of the IndieGrrl organization that works to support women in the arts.  Karen even operates her own artists services agency (Sound Advice) to help other artists navigate the waters of independent music.

With all that on her plate, it’s no wonder that her new record Read the Book is her first new studio record in several years.  It’s an album that’s been a long time coming, and you should take the time to open the cover, flip through a few pages, and hear what Reynolds has to say.

The album’s title is an obvious reference to the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and stems from a specific event in Reynold’s music career.  A few years ago, she was playing an opening set at a prominent listening room in the South.  As she took the stage, Reynolds overheard a patron in the front row say to his friend, “I’m not going to like this chick.”  She didn’t acknowledge it during her set, but the comment got her pretty riled up.  In addition to calling her a “chick” (which she hates), this man had taken one look at an artist, decided she didn’t look like the people he saw on CMT or MTV, and made a snap judgement on her abilities and her music without hearing her play the first note.

The event also inspired the album’s title track where Reynolds invites the listener to see with their heart instead of their eyes before passing judgement.  It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed many times over the years by several artists in several forms, but Reynolds manages to put a personal spin on it to keep it fresh.

Other highlights include the album opening “What Kind of Everything,” a song about a love that may not be all the subject of the song believes.  “You Don’t Love Me” is another broken heart ballad that is immediately preceded on the album by “Drunken Love,” a spoken word piece by Knoxville artist/poet Bill Alexander.  The two compliment each other nicely as though the protagonist in Reynolds’ song is the voice of Alexander’s abandoned lover at the bar.

Two songs were borne out of Reynolds’ partnership with the Words and Music in Schools Program in which artists collaborate with elementary school music classes to write songs.  They range in tone from the whimsical “Dolly” about an imagined meeting with a certain Backwoods Barbie to the more poignant “The Forsaken.”  The latter reads as a tribute to military men and women stationed overseas as the narrator offers prayers for their safe return. The song stemmed in part from a student who had written a letter to her father, a serviceman in the Middle East.

There’s plenty to like here for those who want to take the time to open up the book and read it cover to cover.  Speaking of cover to cover, I guess I should finish the story of the guy at the show who just “knew” he wouldn’t enjoy the show.  After Reynolds played her set, he came to the merch table and bought a CD.  He also voluntarily apologized for the comment he didn’t know Reynolds had heard.

Karen Reynolds: Read the Book (Buy Album)