Sunday, August 9, 2015

Album Review: "Guitar in Hand" by Kasey Rausch

Missouri native Kasey Rausch is one of the hardest working musicians in the Kansas City area.  Follow her on Facebook and you'll get an event invitation here, an event invitation there, maybe two on any given Saturday, say, an afternoon at a local winery and then a nighttime gig downtown.  House shows, breweries, honky tonks, farmers' markets, as well as some of the best live music venues in the city - you'll find country girl Kasey at them all.

In November of 2014 Kasey released an album of new music, "Guitar in Hand" on the Mudstomp label.  "Guitar in Hand" is a testament to Kasey's talent, hard work, dedication to her craft, and relationships in the local music scene.  The album is a showcase of Kasey's musicianship with her guitar, her superb song-writing skills, and her voice.

The best one word that describes Kasey's voice is home.  If you can imagine a family gathering in an old country home, laughter, smiles, a crowded kitchen, and hugs aplenty, Kasey's music is the soundtrack for the day.  It's roots and new, it's country and never twangy and trite, it's honky-tonkin' and front porchin' all together.

"Guitar in Hand" features twelve songs, eleven written by Kasey (one - "Moonshiner's Dream" - with an assist from Scott Stanton), and one by songwriting great Johnny Mullins of "Blue Kentucky Girl" fame.  The first eight songs are roots-acoustic, with instrumentation by guitar, upright bass, mandolin, violin, and banjo.  The album closes with four songs featuring The Naughty Pines,  Kasey's regular gig partners at the KC hangout Coda.  The Naughty Pines kick things up a notch or two with electric guitar and bass, and pedal steel guitar.

"Fly" opens the album, and immediately you're drawn in to a world of superbly arranged instrumentals with guitar, upright bass, mandolin, and violin.  Kasey soon adds her vocals, blending sublimely to complete the musical canvas.

"103" follows, as a loving upbeat foot-stompin' homage to Kasey's grandmother who lived to be 103, and, as Kasey's lyrics tell us, is "finally free".

"Crazy Heart", my personal favorite on the album, will get your toes tappin' and fingers snappin', and features harmony vocals by another Kansas City favorite, Mikal Shapiro.

"Moonshiner's Dream" is an amazing song about the creation of some of mighty fine beverage of the spirited variety, and how the head, tail, and heart must be handled with respect and care.

"Field of Greens", "Just an Old Man" by Johnny Mullins, "The Gospel of Winfield" about the annual Walnut Valley Festival of bluegrass music in Winfield, KS, and the beautiful "Sweet Missouri" lead into the closing four songs with The Naughty Pines - "Heavy Fog","Alabama", "My Piney Wood Home" and the closer "An East Texas Day", an exhilarating tale of a unexpectedly exciting horse ride down in Texas.

One last note - the cover art for "Guitar in Hand" is amazing!  It was done by Sonya Andrews, deserving of a shout-out for her contribution.  Check Sonya out at her website.

"Guitar in Hand" is a wonderful album by a treasure of the Kansas City music scene.

Kasey Rausch Music website
Kasey Rausch on Mudstomp Records
"Guitar in Hand" on Amazon