Kaia Kater isn’t just an excellent banjo player. She’s a force to be
reckoned with. When I started writing about music almost five years ago,
I promised my readers that I would feature artists who sounded like
their lives depended on their music. Kater is very much in this
Her first album, Sorrow Bound, established Kater’s standing as a faithful scholar of roots music. Nine Pin proves her mastery of the form by presenting songs whose lyrics are immediate and whose feel is timeless.
power comes from her delivery. These songs are treated with great
urgency — as they should be, considering their frank discussions of
poverty and race in North America. (Kater is Canadian, though her music
is clearly inspired by Appalachia.) Her musical accompaniment — her own
elegant banjo plucking, muted trumpets, and sparse strings — give
these ballads a somber elegance that is rare to achieve.
is unlike anything you’ll hear this year, and it should be given the
attention necessary to appreciate with as much thoughtfulness as Kater
put into creating it.
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