Afternoon Hang: Kath Bloom, Ember Schrag

Kath Bloom

“Bloom sounds like a woman who has spent years in the wilderness… An earthy, unpretentious presence, she can snap a heart like a twig” – Pitchfork

“One of the most beautiful singers ever. Heartbreaking.” – Devendra Banhart

Devastating songwriting.” – NPR

Pass Through Here is a new album from Connecticut folk icon Kath Bloom, her first for five years.

Beginning to perform in the late 70s, Kath is renowned for her 80s private-press recordings with avant-garde guitarist Loren Connors, as well as signature tune Come Here from the soundtrack to Richard Linklater film Before Sunrise. Over the last 35 years, she has come to be revered around the world for her devastatingly emotional song-writing. Devendra Banhart has called her “one of the most beautiful singers ever,” while Pitchfork says “she can snap a heart like a twig.”

Chapter brought Kath’s music to a renewed audience with solo com-pilation Finally in 2005 and new album Terror in 2008, as well as reissues of four of the six Kath/Loren albums as double CD sets. Then in 2009, Chapter released celebrated tribute album Loving Takes This Course, featuring covers by the likes of Bill Callahan, Devendra Ban-hart, Josephine Foster and Mark Kozelek.

Since then, Kath has recorded for Mark Kozelek’s Caldo Verde label, including Thin Thin Line (2010) and 2012 EP Here I Am.

For Pass Through Here, Kath travelled far from her Connecticut home to record in California with a coterie of freewheeling West Coast folk rock types, including engineer Jeff Hassay and fellow performer Levi Strom. It’s a distinctive new sound for Kath, uplifted by floating synthesizers and disembodied choruses, while retaining the direct simplicity and power for which she is loved.

Kath faces turbulence head-on in Criminal Side, while Let the Music Come condenses her 60-something years of music-making into two incredibly affecting minutes. Bubble Bath is Kath at her most idiosyn-cratic and touching, while Shirt Off Song is an anthem to the wayard men in her life.

Songs are recorded in just a few takes, vocals are captured raw and honest, but the overall impression is as masterful as it is ramshackle. For Kath Bloom, music has never been about finesse but always about feeling. Pass Through Here is emotional, uplifting, haunting and heartwarming songwriting from a master of her craft.

Ember Schrag

“Ember Schrag writes what could be called Great Plains gothic songs. She’s a nimble guitarist, a gripping storyteller, clever lyricist and a strong, dynamic singer with a direct, clear, matter-of-fact voice. She originally hails from Nebraska and now makes New York her home. And while she’s far from unknown in the dark folk demimonde, her writing transcends that genre: she’s one of the most individualistic and interesting songwriters in any style of music.” -New York Music Daily

Ember’s band includes Omaha jazz drummer GARY FOSTER, New York guitarist BOB BANNISTER (Fire in the Kitchen, Tono Bungay, The Scene is Now), bassist DEBBY SCHWARTZ (The Aquanettas, P.G. Six), and returning bandmate SUSAN ALCORN, a Baltimore, Maryland-based composer and musician who has received international recognition as an innovator of the pedal steel guitar.