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Katheleen Michaels


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Folk/pop/rock

Status:

Most recent release, Faces, Traces & Timelines (1998)

See also:

Katheleen Michaels' MySpace page

CD Babys' page for Faces, Traces & Timelines

Comparisons:

Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes), early Heart (Magazine- or Dog and Butterfly-era), Eva Cassidy. (jjhanson@att.net)

Early Heart, a softer Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), (voice). (Marion)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Katheleen Michaels has a mellow, restrained style most reminiscent of Linda Perry's In Flight album. She never resorts to emotional histrionics, flashy musicianship, or catchy hooks, but relies on her quite capable voice, and the competent musicianship of her band to draw listeners in. Her multi-tracked harmonies add richness and depth to the recordings, creating a wonderful laid-back, introspective mood. (jjhanson@att.net)

Katheleen has a nice restrained voice, and I like the way she uses it in layered harmonies. The songs are melodic, not too complicated but very nice to listen to. Most songs are a folk-pop-rock mixture, some featuring electric guitar, never loud but varied enough. The mood of the album somehow reminds me of the seventies, though I can't think of any names in comparison—I'm not too familiar with early Heart but I think that could well do. And I don't mean the music sounds dated, but rather that it's timeless. (Marion)

Recommended first album:

Faces, Traces & Timelines only album to date

Recordings:

Faces, Traces & Timelines

Faces, Traces & Timelines

Release info:

1998—KMWM Productions

Availability:

See CD Babys' page for Faces, Traces & Timelines

Ecto priority:

Medium-High—I think a lot of ectophiles will enjoy this album

Group members:

Katheleen Michaels—lead and backing vocals, 12-string guitar

Guest artists:

Bill Mazur—electric and acoustic (6 & 12 string) guitars, backing vocals
Ken Ruppel—keyboards, backing vocals
Nathan DeMello—bass guitar
Patrick Ward—drums
Dennis Briggs—drums

Produced by:

Nathan DeMello and Katheleen Michaels

Comments:

When listening to anything new, it's hard to not make comparisons. The first three tracks of the debut album by Katheleen Michaels feature acoustic guitar, and her layered harmonies instantly reminded me of early Heart, without Ann Wilson's high shrill range or bombast. Her voice also reminds me of Eva Cassidy, though not quite as strong.
     Track 4 introduces electric guitar (played by ecto's own Bill Mazur), which introduces a darker almost Pink Floydian element to some of the tracks. By track 6, I realized that the mood of the album is almost identical to Linda Perry's (of 4 Non-Blondes fame) solo album, In Flight, a mood that continues through to the end.
     It's a great album to sit back, relax, and listen, inviting one into a reflective, introspective space.
     Music and lyrics are credited to Katheleen Ruppel and William Paul Mazur, whom I assume are other names for Katheleen Michaels and Bill Mazur. The lyrics at first seemed a little too straightforward, and easily dismissable. They hardly contain the poetic and obscure musings of say, Tori Amos or Veda Hille, however on repeated listens they offer a sense of optimism mixed with resignation gained through difficult experience, a mood well-matched by Katheleen's voice and Bill's guitar playing. Favorite tracks of mine are "How Long", "Father Joe", and "Message of Love (The Lullaby)".
     Overall, the album probably won't wow on first listen, but will reward those who persevere. Katheleen's voice is very nice, and she uses it well—but with restraint. The musicianship and arrangements are all quite good, but never flashy. There are few standout tracks (i.e., no immediate hit singles are evident), but there are no losers either. Although the songs themselves are all quite diverse, the overall mood of the album is created and sustained throughout. A great album to put on for a quiet evening at home with a bottle of wine. It's a real nice soothing mellow album, without being sickly sweet or overly produced. Ectophiles should definitely check it out. (jjhanson@att.net)

The album did not 'wow' me on first listen, but on second hearing I found myself singing along to some of the songs, and after listening to it more and more it really grew on me. I find it very good listening in the background while being at work, it sets a nice atmosphere. Or perhaps for me it does even more than just 'setting a nice atmosphere'. It makes me feel—and here I'm at a loss for words, even in Dutch. Comfortable? Safe? I think comfortable might do. It helps me calm down when I'm upset with too much work, not in a 'relaxing' way but very subtle—it helps me cope with it.
     The album is very consistent: there are no real standout tracks, and no bad songs or songs that I like less, so I find it hard to pick favourites, though the opener "Don't cry" has to be one of them. Probably also because it immediately sets the mood for the rest of the album. Or perhaps because of the line 'Everything's gonna be alright'.... (Marion)

I've been listening to Faces, Traces And Timelines quite a bit lately. It's one of those albums that grows on you with each listen. It's a very well-produced, well-written, good-feeling CD that flows evenly throughout. I noticed when I listen to this album, I start to feel good. I couldn't figure it out at first, then boom it hit me, it's the music. It's hard to explain but it has a soothing euphoric feel to it. It's melodic, Katheleen's voice is crisp beautiful and clear as a mountain lake, and she has done some wonderful heartfelt songwriting to tie it all together. No need to reach for the lyric sheet (there is none anyhow) the vocals are impeccably understandable, and flow like a good novel. Bill's guitar playing is very tasteful and I think that word along with consistent may sum up the entire album. The arrangements, and the instrumentation flow in such a way as to not overpower the vocals but assist and complement it. I think this is where the good feel to this music comes from, the melodies are beautiful, and everything adds and compliments that melody and nothing grates, overpowers, and challenges the flow and ambience of the music. To me the strength of this is in the consistency throughout the CD.
     So I couldn't select a favorite song or two, as nothing individually stand above the rest, it's just consistently good. The music invites you to relax and listen straight through. Also, from my experience and from what I've hear other people say about this, it seems to require several listens for its essence to embrace you. (jsutton@rahul.net)


Thanks to Jeffrey Hanson and Marion Kippers for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-08-03 14:22:11.
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