"Grainger's voice has always been strong and sweet, and on this recording, it's exquisite. Her phrasing is profoundly good and the musicianship, which nearly crowns Steely Dan heights of excellence, is damn fine too." - Grand and Green River 4 STARS - M.A.G. June 2008
Imagine this artist: classic songwriting skills, smooth sultry vocals, and the ability to whip up a storm with a fiery slide guitar. Very few can boast this set of trump cards, but it just happens to be the hand dealt to Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist Kara Grainger, who exhibits an effortlessly seductive and modern take on roots, blues and soul music.
With inspiration from greats like Ry Cooder, Mavis Staples and John Lee Hooker, Kara’s warm and accessible style is perfectly captured on her debut full-length record, GRAND AND GREEN RIVER. On the album, Kara sings of love, loss and heartache across a rich palette of swamp-blues, contemporary folk and fresh soul-pop grooves. It’s a captivating blend of sounds – big on swagger, sugar and spice – and comes packed with passionate storytelling and provocative guitar work from a simply stunning entertainer.
GRAND AND GREEN RIVER was produced by David Kalish (Rickie Lee Jones, Ben Harper) mostly at Village Studios and Red Star in LA, and features additional production from Barrie Maguire, whose most recent work includes the last two Amos Lee albums. The album also showcases some of America’s most celebrated musicians, including blues/jazz guitarist Eric Johnson, Reggie McBride (Stevie Wonder, John Lee Hooker), Jeff Young (Jackson Browne) Richie Hayward (Little Feat), Arnold McCuller (James Taylor), and Grammy Award winning pianist Joel Guzman (Los Lobos).
Kara’s debut record also includes a fantastic duet with Amos Lee himself. “On My Way” co-written by Kara, David Kalish and SLIM, was chosen by Lee for its funky rhythm and infectious lyrical outlook. How did the collaboration come about? Amos was recording down the hall, he and Kara hit it off, and the rest is history.
The calibre of talent working with Kara Grainger indicates how steadily her career is rising. Since relocating to LA from Sydney in 2005, Kara has showcased at the 2006, 2007 and 2008 International Folk Alliance Conference in Austin and Memphis. She’s also played regularly at Austin’s famous Continental Club and at Hollywood’s legendary House of Blues opening for guitarist Eric Johnson and fellow Australian singer (and actor) Russell Crowe.
Of course, Kara’s ascent has not come out of nowhere. Growing up in Australia, she spent the latter half of the 1990’s as lead vocalist and guitarist with successful Sydney-based blues outfit, Papa Lips – which became a regular fixture and audience favourite at Sydney’s premiere music venue, The Basement.
Alongside her brother, acclaimed harmonica player Mitch Grainger, Kara and Papa Lips enjoyed a quintessentially Australian experience. Fuelled by national ABC Radio play for their two albums (HARMONY and HIGH TIME NOW) the band toured up and down the sun drenched beach towns of Australia’s east coast in an old Tarago van. They blew away audiences, soaked up the outdoor lifestyle, and notched up experience at all the significant blues and folk festivals along the way (Woodford Folk Festival, East Coast Blues & Roots Festival).
With the band’s name change in 2000 to Grainger, an EP was recorded, featuring Kara’s title track, “Sky is Falling” with producer Harry Vanda (ACDC, The Easy Beats) and the band continued to tour the country, with an acclaimed live performance aired on Country Music Television (CMT).
Then during her stint as guitarist-vocalist for the ‘Steve Prestwich Band’ (from legendary Australian band Cold Chisel), Kara was also featured in both the ABC-TV series “Live at The Basement” and the group’s extended DVD release.
The title track from her “Secret Soul” EP has also been played across Australian radio, on BBC Radio 2 in the UK, and was even a finalist in Billboard's 2005 international songwriting competition.
So what drives Kara Grainger? In short, she has an unflinching desire to express herself combined with a daily dedication to her craft. In person, she exudes the depth, grace and authenticity, which really set her apart from others. Of the songwriting process, Kara says, “While many of my songs are framed in tales of hardship and heartbreak, they’re really representative of life’s spiritual challenges, and for me, a quest for the ultimate truth. It’s very healing when the right words come for a song, so much so that when I sing them, it’s like something is finally resolved.”
One listen to GRAND AND GREEN RIVER is evidence that Kara Grainger is a major new talent with something to say. Standout tracks include Kara’s emotionally charged “Sky is Falling”, which was written after a catastrophic fire and a relationship break-up, and a smoking version of Charlie Terrell’s “I Dreamed I Was the Devil” complete with gangsta organ and stirring vocals.
The album evokes the spirit of early Bonnie Raitt and the New Orleans styled R&B of Little Feat. But importantly, it delivers in spades Kara’s own fresh blend of blues, soul, contemporary folk and pop. Go on; get hooked on Kara Grainger today.
2008 has seen Kara as a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition for her song On My Way and her song Secret Soul received honourable mention in the Billboard Songwriting Competition last year. Kara retuned to Oz in May to release her album and did a 20 date tour supporting blues/folk guitarist Jeff Lang