SHIMMERING NORTHWEST AMERICANA
Kelly Brightwell plays Shimmering Northwest Americana – rain-soaked folk with introspective lyrics and radiant vocals. Think Neko Case meets Patty Griffin, or Jonatha Brooke with a dash of Over the Rhine.
Hearts and Home, Kelly Brightwell's newest offering, is the product of years of soul-searching and personal growth.
When her debut EP, Wait for Your Spring, was released, her aspiration to be a nationally touring artist seemed to be well on its way to becoming reality. Her songs received airplay on community and college radio stations across the Midwest, Colorado and California. NPR featured her tune “Rockets” on their All Songs Considered website. Satirical cultural observer The Onion picked up her rising star and featured her album in their national outlets. And her songs “Knee Deep” and “Daffodils” garnered her an honorable mention at that year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriting Contest.
However, a repetitive stress injury put Kelly on the sidelines for the next several years. She took a hiatus from performing, and a couple of years later, got married and moved from Minneapolis, MN to Portland, OR. She took a position with online music distributor CD Baby and eventually left to stay home with her own brand new baby.
During that time, the idea for an album began to take shape. “The material for this record was taken from everything I’d written since my first CD came out.” She explains, “So it’s really a map of changes -- life changes as well as artistic changes. These songs have been touchstones for me, and I hope they can be signposts for others: songs about living your truth, claiming your heart and finding your home.”
She chose Rob Stroup at 8 Ball Studio to record and produce Hearts and Home. "Kelly writes songs that are evolved” he says, “with themes that are literary, meditative, and explore parallels between our lives and nature. She sings with the smoothness of Sarah McLachlan, but with a bit more Americana grit and charm.” Members of his band, The Blame, provide a rootsy, classic country & western backdrop that adds texture and brings Kelly’s songs to life.
“‘Birds and Stones’ opens the album with a lively country shuffle, followed by the breezy and introspective ‘Walden’, featuring pedal steel. ‘Treeline’ recalls mid-70’s Laurel Canyon-era folk and early Fleetwood Mac while ‘Lightning’s Goodbye’ is an emotionally-charged ballad with slide guitar and a bittersweet sentiment. The aptly-titled ‘The Rain And The Radio’ has a timeless quality that would be at home in any era, with shimmering guitars and catchy, radio-ready, rain-soaked refrain.” (Justin Kreitzer, Dayton City Paper)
Since her latest album’s release, a group of seasoned players have joined Kelly to support her live performances. But Kelly often performs her work in solo or duo format for listening rooms and house concerts. She is focused on playing locally and tours in the Pacific Northwest. Her songs have received critical acclaim at contests hosted by the Tucson Folk Festival, the Intermountain Acoustic Music Association, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival and most recently the Just Plain Folks Music Awards.
Kelly has released a couple of EPs with friend and co-writer Woody Moran under the moniker Radio Stranger. She is currently working toward her next full length solo record, due out in 2018.