Singer-songwriter Kristen Englenz paints musical stories of loss and heartache with a soulful sensibility both intimately aching and defiant with hope. A classically trained pianist and acoustic guitarist with a voice virtuosic and vulnerable, her music is fragrant with Americana roots and a modern indie vibe.
Roots music journal No Depression called Englenz’s music “stream of consciousness Beat poetry imbued with good-down-home Southern sensibility.” And Stomp and Stammer said, "There is a stirring intimacy to these performances that holds you in their grasp."
Englenz attributes her melodies to be partially inspired by the natural world. Her interest in environmental activism is shared in her popular web series “Caterwauling with Kristen” where she mimics birdcalls and teaches about avian species.
“I don't know why a certain chord progression makes us want to cry or to laugh,” says Englenz. “If we figured that out, we would probably understand birds and nature much better!”
Englenz’s debut album, ingénue, was recorded in Nashville by three-time Grammy nominee and producer Ken Coomer, former drummer for Wilco. It includes a collaboration with five-time Grammy winning gospel legends, The Blind Boys of Alabama, recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.
The album explores themes of vulnerability, betrayal and hope. Englenz cries out to the lonely and the lost, opening portals for the passage of grief as well as reassurances that we are not alone.
"With footage of rain clouds, Blind Boys of Alabama, and Kristen Englenz, the song “Pray for Rain” is contextualized in a perfectly complemental visual milieu. Englenz very effectively harnesses a sense of healing and hope,
and Blind Boys of Alabama magnify the potency."
"Kristen Englenz is one of our new favorites from Nashville. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but now residing in East Nashville - and part of Brian Wright's backing band The Sneak-Ups. But also a solo artist who finally has to release his debut album ingénue. Produced by Ken Coomer (Wilco), and with a voice reminiscent of a young Maria McKee, this is all we love in one plate. This week's Friday video is Kristen's new single "Got Me With Goodbye", directed by her brother - and starring, among others, Kristen herself. Enjoy yourself."
Dust of Daylight
"Kristen Englenz has a bunch of questions on her mind:
Do the waves miss the sea when they reach the shore?/does the tide feel a little low when the moon’s compelled to go?/are the rivers and the creeks a little purer than me?/or have they already cried out salt to the sea?, she sings on “Pray for Rain,” her new single featuring Blind Boys of Alabama and previewing the Feb, 28, 2020, release of her debut LP.
With wobbly, ’90s production courtesy of former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer; a low-key, atmospheric arrangement loaded with existential queries; and the Blind Boys’ harmonies on the chorus and the a cappella coda, the single from ingénue begs for repeated listens as it slowly reveals its many layers.
It’s as mysterious as the questions it poses. And nearly as impossible to fully digest; in fact, Sound Bites barely made it through his initial spin, fully absorbing the song only upon revisiting it the next day, when “Pray for Rain” hit him like a train.
Grade card: Kristen Englenz feat. Blind Boys of Alabama - “Pray for Rain” - A"
“Kristen Englenz is one of our new favorites. I've been lucky enough to hear the entire Ken Coomer-produced album this spring, and Kristen’s voice sometimes reminds me of Maria McKee in the early Lone Justice era. And a higher compliment I don't think I can give a female artist.”
Dust of Daylight
“Got Me With Goodbye” is a full-color rendering of the pastel drawings from the singer-songwriter’s last EP. The lead single off her forthcoming album ingénue is rich with a kaleidoscopic tapestry of guitars, French horn, and Indigo Girls drums. Englenz’ voice is in pristine shape suggesting Stevie Nicks and Neko Case. Of course, her singing has always been muscular and defined, but here it feels ready for a fight as she spars between verses. It provides a strong tension between the declaration of “you got me with goodbye” and the mournful descending riff that bisects the chorus. Directed by Eric Englert, the video plays like a quick-witted Nora Ephron rom-com. With bright colors and good use of natural light, you may spend your time waiting for Sally Albright or Kathleen Kelly to pop out from behind a tree. But if you’re left wanting for a star-studded cameo, no matter. The bright caftans and patterned blazers Englenz rocks in the video more than make up for that feeling."
"Kristen Englenz music is like stream of consciousness Beat poetry imbued with
good-down-home Southern sensibility. "
No Depression / The Sound Connector