The right kind of friction creates glorious sparks. Coursing within the heart and mind of singer-songwriter Kristen Rae Bowden is a beautiful turmoil of tenderness and willfulness. It’s a paradoxical sentiment also evident in her artistic sensibilities. In her debut project, “Language & Mirrors”, she fluidly, and authentically, inhabits earthy Americana and majestic orchestral rock.
Kristen’s a confessional storyteller with a theatrical flair who draws from a wide swath of influences. The catharsis in her music is physically evident in her piano playing and her emotive and dynamic vocals. Kristen plays the piano like she’s mad at it; her full body pulsates with rhythm as she attacks the instrument. Her vocals sweep upward from richly expressive lower-register belting to a soaring angelic soprano. Her phrasing swaggers with mama lion toughness, playful sass, and sweet sincerity. “Language & Mirrors” is a vibrant mix of complementary stylistic explorations. Throughout the album’s twist and turns are Kristen’s timeless songcraft and poetic and metaphorical lyric writing. While poised for a promising career with the release of her debut, Kristen pauses to thoughtfully ponder the impact of her music. “Few things can create an intimacy between strangers as well as a song,” she says. “I hope people feel like these songs ‘know them,’ like someone far away feels exactly as they do.”
“Born Of Chaos” as an opener is a beautiful song, gorgeously crafted and performed, offering the subtly addictive qualities of a rock hit but refreshingly riding the alternative wave at the very same time. A gorgeous sound and the perfect way to kick off “Language & Mirrors”. Next up, “Driven Just To Roam” opens with a lilting melancholy piano figure, ethereal guitars, and smoldering vocals. Its orchestral expanse surges upward dramatically as the song unfolds, lending the feeling of an emotional odyssey. “Doesn’t Make Sense” follows and begins the eclectic movement through the project. An orchestral vibe emerges here, a hint of weight and darkness, a concept that deals with struggle and strength in unison. The track is musically spacious on occasion, which lays bare the power of yet another memorable melody. The lyrics are incredibly poetic and honest. Kristen remains fresh yet personal, interesting and accessible. A great vibe and another fairly addictive track.
Elsewhere on the album, there’s as much for the listener to connect with and further understand Kristen Raw Bowden as an artist. Songs like “Forever, Please” offer heart-warming piano ballads and an outpouring of individuality and honesty. The vocal rhythm changes assist in giving this one a new sense of structure. “Runaway” (My Beating Heart) afterward drives with an incredibly powerful piano and mesmerizing guitar solos. This track tells another story that’s intimately rooted yet accessible for listeners. Kristen’s voice is gorgeous throughout the project, but moments like this let those stunning intricacies and that soul shine brightly.
“Solid Ground” is a magical song, incredibly moving and delicate in its approach, standing tall on the strength of its concept and the gentle way in which the artist delivers this. “Solid Ground” is the crossroads where Kristen’s earthy folksiness melds with her brazen prog-rock sensibility. With a folk/Americana appeal, the hook is superb. It entrances and makes you crave a replay, which is exactly what Kristen delivers. “Solid Ground Echo” is an instrumental song that incorporates orchestral and many captivating elements to form a wordless piece of musical brilliance. The country-tinged “Party On The Mountain” pines for those carefree nights of yore drinking in the fields of her hometown of Boone, North Carolina with her high school buds. “It’s one of the few songs I’ve written not inspired by feelings of frustration,” Kristen says with a good-natured laugh.
“Honey Bee” offers a change of pace and mood. We hear Kristen showcase her powerhouse ability as a vocalist. The delicacy and range in her voice on this track are completely entrancing. “Honey Bee” is a creatively unusual song that stands out for its freedom, for its rhythm and character.“It Isn’t About You” brings through a simple touch of joy and some thoughtful observations. This song sees Kristen Rae Bowden truly let go and show-off her vulnerability.
The final piece on the new album is the initially ambient and later emotional and stylish “My Father’s Daughter”. The poignant and autobiographical ballad “My Father’s Daughter” might be the closest song to Kristen’s heart on “Language & Mirrors”. Her father passed away when she was 18 (her father was 61 when Kristen was born). The track details the complexities inherent in having a relationship with someone with a similar story and touches on the meaning of the album title, “Language and Mirrors”. Kristen expands: “The album’s concept centers around how the people closest to us reflect ourselves. They are our metaphorical mirrors.”
Kristen Raw Bowden has put so much into this project including her personality, her experiences, and quite literally the work that’s gone in to create something so professionally crisp and compelling.
Listen to “Language & Mirrors” here and stay tuned for our exclusive interview with Kristen Raw Bowden!
Welcome to BuzzMusic Kristen! We’re loving your album “Language & Mirrors”! What was the main concept behind this project?
My album “Language & Mirrors” is all about the intricacies of personal relationships: how everything we learn while learning to love others, informs and affects our relationship with ourselves. And vice versa.
This project, being my first album, is made up of songs that I wrote throughout my 20’s. In fact, I think I wrote the oldest song on the album at 19, and the newest at 29, so it really covers a decade of my life, and I think that just became the concept... me as a young woman, attempting to navigate my relationships. “Language and Mirrors” speaks to causes of miscommunication and conflict. The specific words we use with our loved ones have so much power. And when we look into the eyes of someone we love, often we just see ourselves.
Where is the best setting to listen to your songs, and what do you hope people take away from them?
I think the best setting for my songs might be in the car, driving down the road... I hope people take away a feeling of catharsis, and forward motion. What are your thoughts on mainstream music today?Billie Eilish is amazing. That pretty much sums it up.
Can you dive into details about the lyricism in “Honey Bee”? I have moments where I feel like I’m watching my life instead of living it.
Some years ago I was traveling around Hawaii with a backpack and my boyfriend at the time. He and I were sitting next to a hotel pool, having a pointless argument, just talking in circles and getting nowhere. At the same time, I looked down and saw a little honey bee on the hot concrete, walking around and around in circles.
The bee’s inexplicable circles seemed to symbolize our ridiculous argument, and my feelings about it. And it felt strangely purposeful to me, like I was on candid camera and some phantom movie director put that little bee there, just for me to see. There’s something magical about moments like that, even if it’s just my imagination.
What emotions were necessary for you to channel when creating “My Father’s Daughter”?
Sometimes you just have to see the beauty in a bad situation. While writing “My Father’s Daughter” I was experiencing some rare moments of acceptance and quiet peace, in the midst of a super chaotic relationship.In order to write that song I had to “zoom out” so to speak, and look at my life from above, to get some clarity, and see the beauty in the flaws.
What’s next for Kristen Rae Bowden?
In August I started recording my next album with a new group of fabulous musicians. I’ve also got a new music video in the works ~ stay tuned ;)
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