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  • Martin Cheney

Kathie Renner: Inside My Head


★★★★★



Kathie Renner's new studio album, Inside My Head, features some of her most sure-footed writing to date. Those familiar with Renner's oeuvre (most likely as a result of her much-loved trio Vincent's Chair, which evolved through many iterations over the years, and recently hung up its strings for the last time) will cite many and varied reasons why her music resounds with them so strongly. Some will connect with her lyrics, which are often both profoundly insightful and effortlessly spontaneous and conversational. Some will relish the way she blends folk, country and jazz stylings, while remaining distinctly original. Some will envy her uncanny ability to formulate melodies that, once they embed themselves in your subconscious, are very difficult to unhook. Some will just love listening to that voice. And some will emphatically endorse all of the above. However much Renner you've had in your life until this point, never fear - Inside My Head gives you all this and more.


Collectively, the songs on this album show Renner at her most contemplative and retrospective. Even the harmonic progressions themselves seem to ruminate, often simply oscillating between two chords, laying a foundation for her beautiful melodies to soar, while always feeling more meditative than repetitive. Two prime examples are found in 'Same, Same But Different' and 'A Promise of Hope,' which, while both from totally different stylistic palettes, allow their narratives to take centre stage; when their harmonic directions eventually deviate, it's a genuine treat for the ears and heart.


Perhaps the biggest surprise on this album comes in the form of 'Faithful,' which showcases Renner's ability to flex genuine compositional muscle. The layered ostinati and disjunct melodic lines create a beautifully effective perpetual motion which pulls us along for the ride - a ride on which we are only too happy to go. 'The One' and 'Invisible' also serve to highlight Renner's deft skill at writing simply beautiful songs, but truth be told, we already knew that.


While there are just too many to list individually, you need only look at the impressive roster of locally- and internationally-renowned guest artists on this album to be assured of the quality of her work, with the masterful support of Jarrad Payne at Wizard Tone Studios (and Sam Leske of The Lair for 'A Horse Called Pablo'). Kathie Renner is a certifiable gem on the landscape of original Australian music, and, in this humble reviewer's opinion, we should be grateful that the songs of Inside My Head did not remain there.


Inside My Head is available for digital download from: https://kathierenner.bandcamp.com/album/inside-my-head-2


(*bias acknowledgement: I recorded piano and backing vocals on two tracks)

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