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Shotgun Singer

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Album Review

If Songs for a Hurricane, Kris Delmhorst's album from 2003, was deep and thought-provoking, this fifth solo CD (excluding side projects and EPs) released five years later, Shotgun Singer, wraps up that psychological web with sound modifications that go deeper and denser. The artist seems to take liberally from George Martin's efforts on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and transfer those embellishments to the needs of a songwriter/singer in the same way that Emitt Rhodes emulated the first Paul McCartney solo LP, McCartney. The dangling vocal on "Midnight Ringer" squeezes out all emotion possible while the instrumentation goes about its business filling the available spaces in highly entertaining fashion. Keep in mind, all this praise isn't saying that this is "the next Sgt. Pepper's" or anything of the sort, what is obvious is that Delmhorst picks up on great work and uses what came before to interpret her new ideas, forging a sound that is both original and appealing. Picture Joni Mitchell deciding to step into Brian Wilson's treasure chest of sound effects and very consciously — and cautiously — blending them like some aural chemist to interact with the words and melodies. "Blue Adeline" is simple yet majestic, the cymbals working as if they offer their own notes, the song following the path set by another K.D. — k.d. lang — on her masterpiece, Ingénue, which this artist clearly owes much to. That debt, though, is perhaps on another level, say the dark recesses that the Velvet Underground's Nico explored, yet fashioned to translate well to the arena where Delmhorst chooses to reside. The singer plays 11 instruments in addition to her lovely and dreamy vocals on this highly ambitious project, the minimal guitar on "1,000 Reasons" teasing the listener as the strings bring up the conclusion, each song setting up the next experience. Going "back down "To the Wire" is smart, clever pop, and also appears to be Delmhorst's best opportunity for a Top 40 hit; as a central part of this CD it also serves as the counterpoint to the title track, "Shotgun Singer." "Birds of Belfast" inspires with its church bell atmosphere, a very conscious and finely crafted set of movements that, like so much on this disc, calls the audience back to investigate/excavate these expressive feelings again. Shotgun Singer is a very elaborate presentation that is up there with Jackie DeShannon's underrated but terrific You Know Me and Tracy Bonham's exquisite Down Here CDs, two albums that helped bring in the new millennium. Kris Delmhorst presents a logical sequel to the above referenced collections eight years later and anyone dipping into a song like "Freediver" or any other random track on this disc is bound to be quite surprised at the extraordinary depth inside.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic Artist!

I first saw Kris live. She was the headline act, but I was there to see the opening act. I'm glad I stayed. She was fantastic, and I've been waiting to get her new album. She played a lot of songs from it. If you get the chance, don't miss her live!


This is the kind of CD that only comes out every once in a long while. There is a lot here for other songwriters to learn from. Fantastic in every way. -great songwriting, well thought out lyrics, rich tones with some surprising vocal detours, expert mixing/instrumentation.

Great for Fans

I love Delmhorst's writing and execution, and any fan will adore this disk. It takes its time building momentum, so someone buying her music for the first time would be better served starting with "Five Stories" or my favorite, "Songs for a Hurricane." Here on "Shotgun Singer," the track "Heavens Hold the Sun" especially exemplifies Delmhorst's quintessential smart lyrics, compelling percussion, and atmospheric range. My only disappointment with this disk was an occasional indication of low production quality -- for instance, in the chorus of "Brand New Sound," the room/studio creates an echo of her voice (and not in a good way). That said, I still wish I had more than five stars to give.


Born: Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

Singer and songwriter Kris Delmhorst was raised in Brooklyn, NY. She trained in classical cello early on, then used her skills to land work with jazz bands and folk singers in the area. A move to Maine -- and a very long winter -- gave her time to learn to play the fiddle and guitar. In 1996, she relocated to Boston, MA. By this time she had years of experience at performing and was ready to take a step up in the world of music, so she set to work on a demo tape titled Swim for It. In 1998, Delmhorst...
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Shotgun Singer, Kris Delmhorst
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