Kris Gruen writes songs about grownup life infused with a mystic wonder; softening the world’s sharp edges like a glass of exceptionally fine bourbon.
He grew up steeped in classic records, with his Americana-influenced new folk sound being grounded in the tradition of great narrative songwriters like Cat Stevens and Paul Simon. Embodying a strikingly current vocal style that takes the New York native to newfound heights, Kris Gruen effortlessly blends sagacious wit and emotional depth.
Tapping into the first single off of his forthcoming album, ‘Welcome Farewell,’ Kris Gruen gives us a taste of the resonance explored on the track, “Water Into Wine.” Through elements of traditional folk that unfold with a pulsating tempo, the immersive grooves that have you fully absorbed in this effervescent offering allow you to sit with your thoughts as Kris Gruen infiltrates your mind through cognizant descants.
His inimitable timbres glide through your speakers like butter, as the top tier production and mix quality courtesy of Charles Newman and Tom Roger has the therapeutic framework taking on a protruding poise in how it’s delivered as a seamless package. You can’t help but feel the comforting hues pour from Kris Gruen’s vocals as the words that he reiterates carries forth enticing storytelling components.
Embracing the narrative that is interlaced into this triumphant soundscape of reflection, Kris Gruen deems “Water Into Wine” a survivor's tale. Themes of finding a greater humility, patience, love, and ability to be an ally as a member of a family and community, bring a sense of belonging that this world could use more of.
Noting that we’re all on this journey together, the victorious tenors that are heard in the grippingly raw state of “Water Into Wine” places an emphasis on the type of person Kris Gruen is apart from the music.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Kris Gruen, and congratulations on the release of your lead single, “Water Into Wine.” Being the introduction to the body of work that is ‘Welcome Farewell,’ what inspired you to lead with this striking piece? Musically, Water Into Wine has a great opening guitar and rhythm section to start up the record. Overall, the song is uplifting and has a positive message that felt on-point as representative for all the songs on the record. How does what this song means to you correlate with what you would like your audience to take away from it? Do you address similar subjects in your already released music catalog? That's a great question. There's a specific character that was central to my life referenced in this song, but there's a much bigger picture I'm aiming at exposing, hoping to make it relational for as many people as possible. WIW is a survivor’s story. It will either ring with reticence or resolve, depending on where the listener is in their own healing. It’s a tough-love story, with a formative step-father, whose powerful influence has shaped me in many ways. Water Into Wine suggests that healing from a difficult relationship starts by tending wounds that inform our true character, important lessons of the heart, and our core potential. In this song, I don’t leave out the hardship but sort through my detritus for the parts of myself that are central to who I am, and who I can become. I did some work, and in this song have reassembled under a new narrative. A couple of decades of practicing my own hand at partnership and parenting has reintroduced me to myself, revealing my tendencies when tested, my habits when it was time to choose to be tender with those I love, or frightened and bullish. This song is about my small heroisms in growing in this way and finding a greater humility, patience, love, and ability to be an ally as a member of a family and a community. We are all on this journey in some way or another, and this song is a celebration of that, wherever we are on that path. What can you tell your audience about the forthcoming album that you think they should know before going into it? I live on a farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont and have been for about seven years now. I think this record sounds like it comes from these wild hills, and as a body of work, I think these songs are more cohesive than any I've released in the past. They belong together, in that they were all written about a life lived in a rural setting, which focuses on familial love, hard work, and the natural world. In that regard, listeners should expect a different sound from my previous releases, that focused as much on going out into the world away from home, as they did about the relationships we have with home and the people who live there with you. My earlier records had lots of songs where I was trying to capture the feeling of travel and an ever-changing landscape. With this record, I'm carefully (with strict attention to genuine dialogues and storylines) walking into the most intimate moments and days of my home life. It feels sincere and humble, and void of melodrama. What’s your mission statement as an artist? How do you ensure that translates into the music that you create? I believe a musician and songwriter should be in touch with what is transcendent for them as a listener when composing their own music. My experience is that listening when writing transforms silence into something like clay, or canvas. It's a deep dive inward, and the silence is roaring down there. That listening is akin to ritual, and words (and melodies) derived of that practice are different than when I speak the same ones in other settings. For me, as a writer, a song needs to contain a great deal of personal, palpable truth to serve even the most general of subjects, and my goal is to get just the right amount of personal truth into my songs, then shift to a matching general sentiment at the right time, so one is analogous to the other, and makes as much room as possible for the listener's personal experience as I can carve out. What's next for you? I just got back from playing Hotel Cafe in LA, for the release of Water Into Wine. That was my first live show since the pandemic started. On September 7th, I'll be in NYC to play another show at The Knitting Factory, and meet up with Jesse Malin and his band to prepare for a UK tour we're sharing, September 27th through October 12th. The official release of Welcome Farewell is September 24th, just a few days before Jesse and I start the tour in Glasgow.