Sunday, March 2, 2003
By Ben Monaghan
In 1995 Kate Schrock changed the landscape of the local scene with her release of “Refuge,” her spare piano playing (less the occasional jazz flourishes), strong melodic instincts and powerful lyrics quickly catapulting her onto the local and national scene. Shortly thereafter she moved to Chicago, released two more CDs and amassed a large following of ardent fans.
A couple of years ago Schrock quietly moved back to Maine, and this week releases her most powerful work to date, “Indiana.” Not since “Refuge” have I enjoyed Schrock as much. The gospel-like chord progressions that at times have felt formulaic and repetitive are better balanced, less formulaic and given more melodic focus, opening up the songs to allow Schrock’s voice to soar. And when set loose, as in the beautifully crafted “Bird on a Wing,” you feel as if you are passing into another dimension of Kate Schrock that up until now has only revealed itself in tantalizing glimpses.
A gifted lyricist whose songs play like small vignettes, Schrock’s theme
remains focused on matters of the heart. Her songs have the power of short stories, casts in small harbor towns where love provides the only reprieve. At times dreamy, at other times self-reflective with tinges of sorrow and regret, Schrock lays bare the feelings and doubts too often thrown aside. Brutally honest and frank, “Indiana” is a nice addition for those whose CD collection is heavy on the Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Joni Mitchell.
Schrock traveled to Ontario to record and produce “Indiana,” working with the producer/engineer team of Dave DesRoches and Glen Marshall, whose credits include Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. I counted 15 musicians credited in the liner notes, as well as a couple of co-writing credits. This is still very much Schrock’s CD, but the production quality and arrangements, especially within the large spaces that Schrock creates with her piano playing, are extremely well-done. If you’re unable to get to the CD release party at the Asylum tonight, you can order the disc at www.kateschrock.com.