Jennifer Kimball

Jennifer Kimball is a musician known for her unusual choice of notes, her passion for dissonance and her willingness to create harmony where none has been envisioned before. She began songwriting in earnest in 1995 after leaving her first band, the critically acclaimed duo, The Story. Her first solo record, Veering from the Wave, was released on Imaginary Road/PolyGram in 1998. Then in the early aughts she and her partner Ry Cavanaugh started a band called Maybe Baby; Duke Levine played electric guitar, Kimball ukelele and acoustic guitar, Cavanaugh baritone electric guitar and Billy Beard drums. The two shared songwriting duties and harmony singing and released one record What Matters (2003), recorded at Hi-n-Dry, Cambridge, MA. After the birth of their son (and deciding it was better to stay married than to have a band together), Cavanaugh started Session Americana; Kimball released Oh Hear Us (2006) and headed to Harvard’s Landscape Institute to pursue a degree in landscape design.

"Landscape work allows you the freedom to keep your head in the clouds," says Kimball. And those flexible hours combined with being outside were a big draw. Nowadays, Kimball executes drawings for landscape colleagues and has her own small practice, favoring pencil over design software. Still, landscape design and music collaborations are not enough for Kimball, who takes pride in the part-time endeavors of potato-printing and sewing felt christmas ornaments. Both are crafts begun somewhere in elementary school. "Yes," she laughs, "second grade art is a total turn on. I remember attending a crafts fair in about 3rd grade with my mom and being so jazzed that I went home and tried making everything I'd just seen. I still haven’t gotten that out of my system!”

A force in the local music scene, Kimball is a slow and steady songwriter and frequent collaborator and contributor to other people's projects and/or shows. In addition, she is responsible for the holiday-ish music collaboration called Wintery Songs in Eleventy Part Harmony which celebrates it's seventh annual tour in 2016. The release of her new record Avocet is a particular joy as it’s beginning came as a surprise birthday recording session at Q Division in Somerville, MA. "I walked into Q completely unaware that everyone gathered there, set up and ready to play, had been invited by Ry to begin recording my songs!" When I finally figured it out I cried, laughed and got right to work!" Four tunes were recorded that day; two of them are included on Avocet. Kimball chose one of her surprise bandmates, the saxophone player Alec Spiegelman to finish the record. And the result of their collaboration is a splendid sonic experience; a record shimmering with elegant instrumentation arranged and produced by Spiegelman. Ten Jennifer Kimball songs of unflinching poetry in the face of loss, love and other mid-life subjects like reading, dreaming and bitter truths. Two of Spiegelman’s bandmates from Cuddle Magic (Dave Flaherty, drums and Christopher McDonald, keyboards) continued the sessions at Old Soul Studios, Catskill, NY; and a superb guitarist from Brooklyn, Ryan Dugré rounded out the recording band. The result is a splendid chamber pop over and through which floats the unadorned and honest voice of a truly literate songwriter; a voice which conveys warmth without affect. The voice of Jennifer Kimball.

updated: 9 months ago