Thursday, March 1, 2012

Katrin at the next level

It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become fluent in a foreign language. Singer/songwriter Katrin Roush feels like the concept also applies to music.

“It’s a spiritual thing. You really have to reflect on where you came from, where you’re going. You have to develop that ability to open up and not hold back,” says Katrin (as she is more commonly known).

Katrin seemingly hit the 10,000-hour mark with “Frail to Fearless,” her stunning new CD recorded in New York with producer and drummer Jerry Marotta, who has worked with Peter Gabriel, Sheryl Crow and others.

Marotta’s involvement introduced Katrin to a whole new caliber of collaborator, as King Crimson/ Peter Gabriel bassist Tony Levin, Lovin’ Spoonful guitarist and harmonica player John Sebastian, Styx singer Lawrence Gowan and other notable session players participated in the recordings.

“This really brought me to a new level. There’s something to be said about building confidence when you work with really great people,” says Katrin.

She does admit, though, to feeling a little intimidated during a drive from her Boston home to Marotta’s studio in Woodstock, NY, knowing that Levin and Sebastian would be waiting there for her.

“But the minute we started playing, I loosened up, and it felt like we were playing in my living room. It just felt so easy. When I’m in the moment, I don’t worry,” she says.

And you can catch one of those moments when Katrin and Marotta perform Saturday in the Coppertop. The show begins at 7 p.m. and will preview material from “Frail to Fearless" which is available online at and has an “official” release next month.

While the production and team involved brought Katrin into a new league, her songs and her performance provide the solid foundation for the album. Since her earliest days playing around Central Mass (and hence a loyalty to doing a show at the Coppertop even as her star is on the rise), Katrin has stood out with songs and a style that rocked a little harder than conventional singer/songwriter fare, but did not really comfortably belong in rock clubs either.

But rather than compromise, Katrin just kept honing her style over a series of albums and countless live performances (her days as a street busker are nicely captured on the new tune “Cobblestones”).

Vocally, Katrin can swing from a smoky blues to lighter, jazzy tones, and she covers that range on the new record. Her subjects are likewise a blend of inner musings about the ups and downs of love and broader observations about people and places around her.

“Jerry’s rhythms, his groove, provided the glue and his production expertise made sure the whole album hung together,” she says.

Katrin revisited three of her older songs_ “Dreams,” “Ivy” and “Blame”_ for updates that better accentuate the depth and angles of the material. In other cases, such as “Breeze,” the singer had a rough idea built basically in the studio.

Katrin ends the CD with an insightful arrangement of Led Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way,” making it sound more gritty than wistful.

Her goal throughout was to create recorded performances she could reproduce live.

“You’re always in different settings as an independent artist, sometimes playing solo, sometimes working with a nice core of people like I have,” she says. “So while there may be some variations live, the foundations will be there. The melodies, and groove will be there. The variations, though, are pleasing.”

As is the very work itself.

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