This San Francisco homebody's third-coming album utilizes spirited orchestrations of strings and enchanting melodies, escorting us into the Odysseys of The Water Is Wide.
The third approaching solo album from Kate Magdalena, the San Francisco based Americana and Folk amalgamating songstress lands healthy in our hearts with a serene grace and eloquent uplifting form.
The Water Is Wide is a ten-track album with a carefully nurtured atmosphere in which Kate's complex realms of authenticity and passion exist co-dependently; with each second of exposure granting the opportunity to melt away from the constant noise of the everyday.
The more anthem folk-heavy territory of preceding albums, like A Large Dance, has not entirely been overlooked here, but something distinctly uncluttered and more prevalent is found in The Water Is Wide. Aided by her enveloping orchestrations, she embellishes her numbers with cohesive elements of acoustics from strings and flutes, to harps and shakers. Now and then, there are earthy drums and percussion supporting the flow of tempo rather than micro-managing it. Here, her luminescent cantor always stays clear: it all feels carefree, unraveling, and spiritual. And like a book, this album reads like an Odyssey.
Substantial segments of this album are nearly overpoweringly gorgeous. On "Shores of Avalon" and "The Water Is Wide," the toplines cascade down like a waterfall—gradually, and then all at once, with a wholesome and cozy texture. These are angelic, mantra reminiscent folk songs left to their own devices amongst the neverending pastures of Kate Magdalena's musical sanctuary. Certain numbers are more robust and spritely than others. "Maui," a playful, enchanting, piano-lathed contemporary venture with spotlights shared between bright mandoline sounding strings and the modern piano, which firmly embodies the edges of this mix.
On a road-map that guides us through the crossroads of this record, where the most insignificant detours matter—both lyrically and musically—Kate demonstrates an in tune connection with her refined emotional exuberance. On "Sea Fever," she remembers the ocean with a nostalgic temper, "I must go down to the seas again...and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer by." On the cover "Down Town," the distant rattle and clamor of the streets somehow entreat this dancing canzone's vigorous nature with a New-York City evocative spirit.
Many tracks shift and develop a tender, endearing quality via the singing cellos as they sanction a play date amongst the instrumentational brewings of these songs. "Clothe of Heaven," is a notable venture, where the instrumental orchestrations act like the dots for the lines to unite as this spiritual hymn churn deep into our cores. On "I Know Heartbreak"—an Everlong country-bluesy suggestive tune reminiscent of some of the most popular contenders on the radio—vulnerability is dismantled, as Kate Magdalena confers a more boots and strap approach to corralling the reminders of heartbreak.
Looking at it as a whole, there is little left for wanting in Kate Magdalena's The Water Is Wide, coupled with the fact that her resounding productions thrive in more ways than one. On the album highlight "The Waking," Magdalena sings with an introspective tinge, "What falls away, is always and is near, I learn by going where I have to go," while the harmonies of her supporting male lead synergize with her fastidious tone flawlessly. This track's sublime atmosphere serves as a reminder of the overflowing quality found within this album and the meticulous effort placed into curating its flow. On "Back Story," the outline of a nation's tribulations and suffering developed through the notion that there is a backstory to every story. As Kate's voice swells with a revealing fervor, she sings, "So tell it like it is, for the story is yours to live... don't let stories take you from your friends," warning about propaganda unwanted and damaging effects.
Next, "Shores of Avalon" clarifies the peace and tranquillity we can find in life, which is reflective of how this album makes us feel whole. Raw and earthy embrace stamps many of these songs with their unique texture while Kate's vocals cut through: "The gardens they will braid your hair with violets and rosemary," she sings, as the rustic acoustic guitar and soft ringing pads slice through our inner barriers. "Feel the wind upon your face as we cross the stormy sea," she swoons. It's a full serving of upliftment and spectacle, as we converge and meander the pages of Magdalena's catalog, and as this year reaches its ending summer moons, one thing remains clear and consistent—the warmth and devotion Kate has for music are unmatched.
The Water Is Wide succeeds in categories Magdalena's peers just haven't tapped into fully. In matters pertaining to the universal resonance of spirit, authenticity, and hope, you'll seldom find the same ease in its deliverance as Kate Magdalena presents here. On paper, Magdalena reads like a folk-pop artist (Kate calls her free-form genre "Timely Americana,"), but in operation, it sounds like a bolstering conquest—glowing lovingly with an unapologetic brightness.
Listen to The Water Is Wide here.