Internet Only Demos
A Facebook message showed up in my inbox the other day, from Stefanie Drootin, member of the well-known Omaha band The Good Life. It announced the availability of an album’s worth of songs she’d recorded with her friend Chris Senseney. No album title, no track order, unmastered. They went down into Stefanie’s basement and just had fun with writing and recording songs.
“I didn’t want to shop it to labels or give it to friends and ask them to put it out. I just wanted to share it,” Stefanie said via email. “I had my eight-month-old baby strapped to my body during the entire recording. We recorded most of it live and didn’t stop takes if he cried or if a truck drove by.”
And indeed if you listen closely you can hear an occasional vocal contribution from her baby (as in “I’m No Good”), which only adds to the charm. But these songs sound anything but rough or unpolished. Stefanie and Chris are veteran musicians, so when they relax and let it rip, it still comes out sounding wonderful. Stefanie sings in a clear, pure tone with perfect intonation, but there’s nothing studied or careful about what she does. She sings the way she’d sing at home doing dishes, just for the pure joy of singing. She sounds, above all, happy.
Happiness, though, is boring, and these songs have their own modest drama. In “Sat There,” she sings, “Morning came you gave up on my kiss/you didn’t have to will to live/or keep me with your lips/I’m the one who left/but you’re still the one who got away.” There’s some good old country heartbreak, but sung so sweetly that it takes away most of the sting.
“Don’t Bring Me Down” has some of the same joyful melancholy, delivered in waltz time: “What if the map was erased? No trace of personal space?” She sings about the unspoken agreement that sustains a failed relationship, and it’s heartbreaking, but at the same time irresistably pretty. The arrangements are all simple to the point of transparency: guitars, drums, and occasionally some keyboards.
On a couple of tracks, notably “Running On Fumes” there’s some junkyard noise guitar grumbling away in the background, which shouldn’t work with in a country waltz. But it sits in the mix so politely, you’d miss it if it went away.
Tin Kite is a project that genuinely seems to have no commercial, careerist agenda. As luck would have it, Stefanie and Chris had the time, space and will to make a modest masterpiece, a labor of love that brings a little light and cheer to anyone who downloads it. A lot of people who download music think free means worthless, and with Tin Kite, that would be a huge mistake. It’s priceless.
“After we recorded these songs,” Stefanie said, “I didn’t want to feel weighed down by them. I didn’t want to feel like I had to have it mixed perfectly or mastered or even put the songs in the perfect order. It all just sounded so draining. I just wanted to share it.”
So in turn, I want to share it with you. You can download it at , or http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/TinKite.zip.