Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Most recent release, Fall, 2000
Katie Tessman's singer-songwriter page
I usually like making comparisons. For one thing, it helps me clarify how much I like a particular artist. For another, it makes it so much easier to say, "If you like so-and-so, you'll like this CD, too." Well, I've been scratching my head and looking through my 1,000+ CD collection to find an apt comparison, but I can't. If you were to take a little bit of Joni Mitchell, mix it with Suzanne Vega and add a dash of Fisher you might get a sense of what Katy Tessman is like. But only a sense. Fall, her debut (and so far only CD) is distinctive enough to make Katy Tessman a hard musician to compare. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Own, occasional co-writing
Let me say this from the outset: I didn't like the CD's cover. Had I been browsing in a store I probably would have looked at the cover, a picture of a pretty woman, Katy Tessman, turned very blue. That's it: too much blue on the cover. Now I've said it and have gotten the hard part of this review over with.
Fortunately, this is one case where you would be very wrong to judge a CD by its cover. The music is enchanting. With touches of rock and jazz, the songs on Fall take what's often called "urban folk" into brand new areas. Especially appealing is the variety of instrumentation and melodies on the CD. Every now and then there's a touch of melancholy in the music, too. With ample use of acoustic guitar, bass and even cello, this CD is a treat.
Katy Tessman has a lovely voice. She's a delight to listen to, not just once, but over and over again. In fact, I have to say that Katy Tessman's Fall is possibly an acquired taste. On the first listen you might say to yourself, "Hmm, this is different. Sounds good, but not quite what I was expecting." Then you listen again, and you realize that you're hearing somebody who's different because she's not only talented, but willing to venture into new territory, by combining her superb voice with innovative music. Jazz, folk, blues, pop--you'll hear all of them on Fall.
Her songs are often emotional, sometimes quirky. There are good, solid bursts of feeling in songs where you wouldn't expect to be touched, such as in "Caribou," a song about the northern woods in Minnesota. Katy Tessman's songs cover a wide range of subjects--from remembering her grandmother to a boyfriend who can't keep a beat.
I was particularly moved by "Bright Chair," a song written as a goodbye present, and which goes, "Lord knows, I will try, just to see his deep blue eyes...Will he ever come back down, share a beer and hang around." You've been there. We've all been there.
Something that you don't hear all that often is a simple, honest purity in the lyrics. Katy Tessman says what she feels, and that makes the listener feel good, too. (email@example.com)
Recommended first album:
Fall is her debut album
See Rhythmelodic Records website for availability
Katy Tessman--vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin
Phil Lyons--electric bass, acoustic bass
Wally Ingram--ocean drum, congas, shakers, dumbek, tambourine, bongos
Dave Stanoch--cymbals, orchestra bells, djembe, tambourine, shakers, drums, bass drum, wood block, triangle, vibra-slap, african shells, cowbell, cajon
Mary Gaines--cello, backing vocals, fretless acoustic bass
Jay Moran--electric guitar, keyboard, backing vocals, electric bass, acoustic guitar
Randy Sabien--violin, mandolin
Pauli Ryan--bongos, wind chimes, coil, cricket, flixtone, clappers, wasers, paiste finger cymbals, assorted bells
Richard Davis--acoustic bass
Charon Tessman, Bill Tessman, Caryl Mousseaux, Pete Mousseaux, Bill Tessman, Jr, Dawn Tessman--backing vocals
Jay Moran, Dave Stanoch, Katy Tessman
This is the kind of CD you can listen to and get more out of during each listen. Also refreshing is that you can clearly hear each word in every song, something that probably comes about from Katy Tessman having been a speech communication major.
While Fall is Tessman's first CD, she performed previously with a folk-rock band, Joe's Elevator, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Write: Rhythmelodic Records, P.O. Box 1071, Minnetonka, MN 55345, U.S.A.; email email@example.com
Thanks to Bill Adler for his work on this entry.
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