What Rises is the debut release from Caitlin Kraus. That being said she started getting involved with music at an early age by playing piano and guitar. As us musicians know once you get the bug it really never goes away.
What Rises contains thirteen songs and comes in at fifty-two minutes. For today's standards that’s a longer album but in all honesty who cares about trends. This is an expansive album and sometimes a slow burn but also well worth the time.
This album has a good amount of instrumentation. Some of the songs have a full band supporting Kraus while others are very minimalist. Either way the main attraction to these songs are the vocals. There are just a lot of shades of emotion in her vocals but often it leans towards darker colors and tones. I was often reminded of PJ Harvey who I love and is a vocalist that is terribly underrated. Kraus has the same characteristics. There’s a fragility at times but also some power. She also pulls off melancholy which I think is incredibly hard. There’s a fine line between a melodramatic, saccharine type of vocal performance and simple heartfelt vocals that feel natural yet acknowledges some of the sadness. She pulls off the latter wonderfully.
The album takes some time to rev up. You are greeted with subtle nuanced performance on “Synchronicity” and the haunting “Natural Fear.” The first song that felt like a single worthy tune was “Follow Me” which was a highlight. It starts with some light percussion, organ and bass. The bridge hits and the energy rises. I loved the hook and chorus. There is more instrumentation like cello and what sounds like xylophone but it’s the vocal hook which is simply fantastic.
Kraus is just getting started. The intimate and raw title track “What Rises” and the atmospheric beauty of “Dead Man” is captivating. This is where she really thrives. I didn’t mind the more straightforward rock songs like “Down To You” but it’s the songs that are more experimental and combine folk and orchestral elements such as “Waiting for the World” or the more minimal “Make Love Stay” that really seem to fit her style.
Overall, I thought this was a great album and ““Follow Me” in particular was one of my favorite songs I’ve heard this year. Highly recommended.
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