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Music Review: Dead Reckoning by Kate Fenner

Canadian singer-songwriter Kate Fenner, who is currently based in New York City, is about to release her new album called Dead Reckoning. It was inspired by tragedy and created out of struggle and self-reflection; as such, anyone dealing with loss and death may find many songs that they connect with throughout the album.

Dead Reckoning by Kate Fenner
Dead Reckoning by Kate Fenner

You can think of hers as an album full of modern folk music, or “serious music,” as she calls it. And that’s probably the right way of thinking about it. It carries too much life experience and reality to be categorized in the more mainstream categories; it’s storytelling music, for a crowd that wants to hear a story about the human condition.

Kate Fenner
Kate Fenner

“I know life by definition is contoured by the loss of it,” explains the artist. “This time feels particularly burdened with loss, real and impending; maybe every time has felt that way. I’m left with love as the only defense — loving people and letting them know they were loved by you.” On this album, she sings to her friends, parents, and “their ghosts.”

Kate Fenner Portrait
Kate Fenner Portrait

The music on the album, supplied by over ten talented musicians, is rather sophisticated. Americana sprinkled with some pronounced bluesy and country influences, it’s an overall pleasant auditory experience. Personally, I prefer the faster tracks, like “Transit of Venus” and “The Hawk,” as the pace is more inline with my taste. But all of the melodies are pretty solid.

Fenner’s singing style, however, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Her vibrato-heavy delivery is more of an acquired taste, which is fine because music shouldn't be as formulaic as a lot of modern pop tends to be. But it’s also a consistent aspect of her vocals, and that can be a bit difficult to get through on an album where every song, but one, is over four minutes long.

Kate Fenner Portrait Two
Kate Fenner Portrait Two

Still, though, Dead Reckoning is a good album for people who like to get a little serious from time to time. It’s not heavy, or burdensome, or sad; it’s thoughtful, poetic, and interested in exploring deeply personal and yet universal aspects of being alive: eventual death and the people we meet before we meet our end.

Track list for Dead Reckoning scheduled for release on 1/15/2023:

1. “My River”

2. “Transit of Venus”

3. “Quiet Rider”

4. “Ghost Moon”

5. “Soul-maker”

6. “The Torch”

7 “Cautionary Tale”

8. “The Hawk”

9. “Son of a Gun”

10. “Received Wisdom”

11. ”Firefly”

Cover painting by Kaari Upson | Photographs by Jody Kivort

Note* Music provided for objective review by our partners.


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