Christine Kane: Right Outta Nowhere

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Right Outta Nowhere disc coverIt's no secret that I'm a sucker for a girl with an acoustic guitar. Pretty much any woman wearing the singer/songwriter mantel gets at least a try from me. That being said, I'm a lot pickier about my songstresses than I used to be, and as my adult music taste has formed I've culled a lot of them from my collection. It's not enough that a girl can play the guitar now--she has to actually have something to say.

This being the case, I was tentatively excited to meet Christine Kane at BlogHer, and to listen to her CD, Right Outta Nowhere, which was included in the BlogHer swag bag. My excitement increased after meeting her and attending the BlogHer session during which she co-presented. She was very nice and approachable, and had a seriousness about her craft that I appreciated. I also attended her show at BlogHer, but it was more a party than a show atmosphere and I could barely hear her. Then I came home and proceeded to lose her CD for a month.

But then I found it, and now I am listening to it, and I think you should too.

Right Outta Nowhere is Christine's second most recent CD, released in 2004. (Her most recent release, A Friday Night in One Lifetime, just came out and can be ordered off her website.) The sound is pretty basic girl and guitar, and Christine's voice is very nice, though a bit more professional and less raw than I'd like (her live CDs may suit me more on that front). The brilliance, as is generally the case in this genre, is in the lyrics.

Right Outta Nowhere is an eleven song disc, with ten studio tracks and a live bonus track. It begins with the title piece, a song about jumping in and following your dreams that is at once pretty and anthemic ("She hit that highway/With every ounce of faith she could summon/When courage finally comes/You never see it coming"). The next song, "Made of Steel," reminds me a little bit of Ani lyrically, with a "fuck it, at the very least this is gonna be fun" feel that I just love ("You can round up all your reasons/Tell me that my plan's all wrong/Say you're on the path to Jesus/But I'll be he'd come along"). Most of the other songs on the disc have the same lyrical style, dealing with growing up, relationships, travel, and the ups and down of life with a slightly biting humor, and though some of the songs resonate with me more than others (I particularly like "Falling in Love with the Wind"), I don't see any weak points. The strengths, however, lie in the two tracks that are outside this mold.

The first of these tracks is "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad," which I have to quote in its entirety as I love it beyond belief:

Jenny found Mariah back in 1999
When she was living in a town called Bend
The dog was in a dumpster and she went and got it neutered
And Mariah's had it made since then
Then a little while later at a truck stop in Decatur
She saved a skinny cat she calls Clyde
And then she found another and another and another
If you add it all together there's five

Oh to be a dog or cat
Who's living in a house like that
Where sofas become scratching pads
Four legs good two legs bad

Jenny met Bob a man not a dog
And her mother had a moment of peace
Jenny thought he was her soul mate and a year after their first date
He moved in and started sharing her lease
There was so much to get used to like the dog hair in his tofu
And tripping over all the cat toys
And each time they eliminated each one was congratulated
In a squeaky high-pitched voice

Obviously Bob is of the opinion
That something must be
Different if they live together
Four legs good two legs better

Bob had been there half a year when all the things he'd found endearing
Were beginning to get on his last nerve
Making love at dawn with all the vermin looking on
Made him think he would give up boycotting fur
So when Jenny brought a kitten home
She'd found outside a nursing home it finally reached the very last straw
At the risk that she would hate him he gave her his ultimatum
It was high time that he laid down the law

He said choose
You must choose
Between paws and this relationship
And please, it's dog-doo
Not a cause for celebration
If those beasts of yours are not gone before
I go out and then I come back again
You can be assured I will slam the door
It is them or me it is me or them

Cut to noon the next day she was waving from the driveway
As his pickup disappeared in the dust
It was a good thing while it lasted too bad he became a bastard
He was lucky to be living with us
So she took the brand new kitten and they went into the kitchen
And she made herself some corn-on-the-cob
The dogs and cats all showed and she took everybody's vote
And they decided they would name the kitten Bob

Once again the dogs and cats have taken their dominion back
Sofas should be scratching pads
Four legs good Two legs bad

On the strength of that song alone I'll gladly buy the rest of Christine's CDs. However, things just keep getting better with the disc's last track, the "channeled" song "Mary Catherine's Ash Wednesday Journal Entry," in which Christine takes on the persona of 14 year-old Mary Catherine, suffering through Lent in a typically teenage way ("Easter's just around the bend/Once again it is Lent/And my face is smeared with ashes/Either I will run away or I'll stay/And sit through/Another hundred million masses") and reminds me a lot of Dar Williams at her best.

All in all, Christine Kane represents most of what I really love about singer/songwriters. Reasonable to excellent musical abilities mixed with truly being a writer. I plan to buy her new CD and then make my way back through her past ones, and I'm very thankful to have met her at BlogHer and been given this disc, as it renews my hopes that there are wonderful musicians out there I just haven't discovered yet.

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