Track-by-Track: Kathleen’s Intimate, Serene, & Cinematic ‘Kathleen II’ EP

Kathleen © 2020
Kathleen © 2020
A sweeping, grandiose showcase of inner upheaval blending the folk and pop worlds, Kathleen’s stirring sophomore EP is a dynamic, dramatic outpouring of catchy songs and intensely vulnerable energy.
Stream: “Dark Side of the Moon” – Kathleen

A sweeping, grandiose showcase of inner upheaval blending the folk and pop worlds, Kathleen’s stirring sophomore EP is a dynamic, dramatic outpouring of catchy songs and intensely vulnerable energy. Intimate, serene, and cinematic, Kathleen II is an instantly memorable four-track encapsulation of life in 2020: Pain, loss, love, longing, isolation, fragility, self-doubt, confidence, and conviction come together in a musical blender of reckoning and reflection.

Kathleen II EP - Kathleen
Kathleen II EP – Kathleen
I’m having to reinvent
The way I measure time now
Cause “days and hours” feel like a past life
Tryna learn new manners
Like how to great a stranger on the street
With nothing but your eyes
Texas to Houston
New York to The City
I know you’re getting slammed but you’ll walk again
Every mile closer to the dark side of the moon
I dunno what’s coming I just wanna hold you soon
But last night
I met the Milky Way as it was shivering
Outside of my window
And this morning
I finally met the birds
Cause there’s nothing else to do but watch them
– “Dark Side of the Moon,” Kathleen

Released October 9, 2020 via Let Me Know / Warner Records, Kathleen II follows May 2020’s debut EP Kathleen I which served as the extended player introduction to Colorado-born, Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Kathleen (Kathleen Brady Ross). A sonic mixture of high energy pop and tender indie folk – produced, in part by Ariel Rechtshaid (Adele, Beyoncé, Vampire Weekend, HAIM), the record represents a next-best-step forward from an exciting artistry that has stunned time and again over the past year: In reviewing her single “Asking the Aspens” earlier this summerAtwood praised Kathleen I as a “poetically charged, fiercely authentic collection of songs… that should be listened to in its absolute entirety.”

Kathleen © 2020
Kathleen © 2020

Inspired by the human condition, influenced by nature, and driven by visceral emotion, Kathleen’s music is big enough to fill any room and small enough to touch every heart.

The artist’s four new songs – “August,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Can’t Sleep,” and “Glass Piano” – are each their own world unto itself: The indisputable Top 40 worthy track “Can’t Sleep,” written in part by Dan Nigro, presents pop with purpose, injecting a depth of turmoil and trapped feeling into a dance-y electropop-styled jam:

slow down
try and think it through
we’re on very different pages
and i’m trying to get back to you
you’re not
hearing what i’m saying
you’re being so sincere
but we’re speaking different languages
i got the news this morning
another house is burning down
this is a black flag warning
think i’m falling
eyes closed
but i can’t sleep
i can’t dream when
everything’s a nightmare

Meanwhile, the EP’s bookends are profoundly nuanced, thought-out pieces: Opener “August” is a beautiful overhaul of the self that softly, steadily builds to a moving release. The artist lets her voice fly high and low, loosening her restraints in a touching display of sheer talent and feeling.

Closer “Glass Piano” presents an alluring mixture of jazz and pop set to expressive poetry:  “How close is your past? ‘Cause it consumes me,” Kathleen sings in the chorus, a series of piano scales cascading behind her unapologetic, urgent vocals. “Bend and break, ignore then take you, play me like a hammer on a glass piano.

Every track has its own special place, and perhaps none will stick with listeners more so than “Dark Side of the Moon,” the sincerely titled reflection on quarantine and isolation that is not, in fact, an homage to Pink Floyd. “Florida to Tampa, Oregon to bend, these license plates like name tags in reverse migration,” Kathleen sings, evoking Phoebe Bridgers and Big Thief in her irresistibly intimate and subtle performance. She goes on to sing, “Every mile closer to the dark side of the moon; I dunno what’s comin’, do you any of you?” A light, lilting song full of longing and uncertainty, this track more than any other speaks to the balance of chaos and stability we have all had to strike for ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kathleen © 2020
Kathleen © 2020

A poet at heart with a voice of gold, Kathleen has continued her steady ascent with Kathleen II – a beautiful and intrinsically human set of sweetly stirring songs.

With a little something for the folk and pop lovers alike, this new record reveals to us that Kathleen will not let her artistry be defined for her; she will do as she pleases, and find her own way irregardless of genre, style, or quite frankly, any boundary. We look forward to continued delights as Kathleen’s career continues into 2020 – and for those getting into the holiday spirit, be sure to listen to Kathleen’s gorgeous cover of the yuletide classic, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

In the meantime, experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Kathleen’s Kathleen II EP with Atwood Magazine as the artist goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her sophomore EP!

Kathleen II is out now via Let Me Know / Warner Records.

I wanted to make the lyrics speak to the darkness of the world, inside the lightness of the dance.

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:: stream/purchase Kathleen II here ::
Stream: ‘Kathleen II’ – Kathleen

:: Inside Kathleen II ::

Kathleen II EP - Kathleen

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It’s 3 chords and 2 sections (give or take) and is pure hormone-hurt for a love that was too strong to ever happen. I have a tendency to overcomplicate and fixate, but this song is like my “hey remember when you already did it” reminder to get my brain out of the way so I can purge onto the page. Every song I write is a lesson that goes back into the songwriting, that’s the lesson of “August” to me.

Dark Side of the Moon

Dark Side of the Moon is my first co-production that I’ve released. It happened that way, because it had to. Like so many of us, I went home to stay with my family during the first part of quarantine. There’s not really a scene of music makers (at least that I know of) where I’m from in Colorado, and we couldn’t’ve worked together bc of “stay at home” even if there were.
So I had to be my own producer. I wrote and recorded it on my first guitar, a children’s beginner classical that I just think has a fantastic sound and I recorded it in my the basement room of the house I grew up in – the room where I first started writing songs around 7 or 8. The fullest of circles. Then I shot the stems over to my friend, Ryan, and he cleaned ‘em up real nice and added some subtle sound goodies. But I wanted to keep it ultra stripped, almost to the degree of discomfort. I wanted it to almost sound unfinished because that’s how quarantine feels in so many ways.
It was 1 take, no click or even headphones, so it was a very naked and honest, but also a very technological experience, because everything was remote out of necessity. I love that about right now, how as a society, we’re simultaneously simplifying and modernizing.
There’s so much to say about this song, and there’s so much to say about this time. But in this little tune – and I don’t even know if it’s good or anything – I just wanted to get at the idea that through all this upheaval and unrest, when we are forced to lay down inside the void, be suctioned by its vacuum – when all the bullshit burns off in the heat of great change, all that’s left is your most honest self.

Can’t Sleep

I wrote “Can’t Sleep” a few years ago – I guess times have been trash for a minute, now, haha.
Even then, it felt like the Americans has been blindly and willingly lead into a deep canyon and instead of questioning who threw us in, we just immediately turned and started fighting each other about which side got us here.
And in that canyon, the shouts ricochet and the echos get louder until deafening, and it’s a horrible bath of voices and we can’t distinguish one from another, or who’s actually shouting. By the time the sound gets to you its all distorted and sounds nothing like what the person originally said so you shout back to that distorted voice and then so on and so on.  In the canyon, we’re scared and angry and overwhelmed. And at a certain point, you just squat down on the ground with your hands over your ears wondering how you’re gonna get out of this one.
This song is about that fight in the canyon. It’s a dancy jam, and when Noah and I wrote the first version, I definitely remember that it was the first song I’d ever written for myself that I’d actually stood up and just teenage-girl-at-a-sleepover danced to. So in the style of The Smiths or Tears For Fears’ “Mad World” or so many other great songs to dance to, I wanted to make the lyrics speak to the darkness of the world, inside the lightness of the dance. It makes understanding how hard and bad everything is, less hard and bad.

Glass Piano

I’m stoked to release this record because it combines a few art forms that normally don’t mix. Noah went to school for Jazz and I studied poetry, so we sort of combined those two mediums on a platform that both typically disagree with: Pop music.
The lyric “hammer on a glass piano” was pulled out of the opening poem “Music” in Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems and the reoccurring piano part that Noah plays is really pretty complicated and all his Jazz school friends would have a fit tryna guess what the chords were. And from there we just expanded.

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:: stream/purchase Kathleen II here ::

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Kathleen II EP - Kathleen

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