"Thank you for your beautiful CD, Inside My Head, Kathie Renner! Your attention to detail and gorgeous voice need to be heard!! What an achievement. Congratulations! X"
Michelle Nicolle | Australian Jazz Vocalist
"Congrats on a great launch last night, Kathie. Great band. Can't go wrong with Steve Todd and Shaun Duncan! Lovely vibe in the room. Particularly liked 'The One'. 'Invisible' also a lovely track. Beautifully recorded album, nice mix and the musicianship, wonderful."
Peter Combe | Legendary Children's Songwriter
Kathie Renner's new studio album, 'Inside My Head,' features some of her most sure-footed writing to date. Those familiar with Renner's oeuvre (most likely as a result of her much-loved trio Vincent's Chair, which evolved through many iterations over the years, and recently hung up its strings for the last time) will cite many and varied reasons why her music resounds with them so strongly. Some will connect with her lyrics, which are often both profoundly insightful and effortlessly spontaneous and conversational. Some will relish the way she blends folk, country and jazz stylings, while remaining distinctly original. Some will envy her uncanny ability to formulate melodies that, once they embed themselves in your subconscious, are very difficult to unhook. Some will just love listening to that voice. And some will emphatically endorse all of the above. However much Renner you've had in your life until this point, never fear - 'Inside My Head' gives you all this and more.
Collectively, the songs on this album show Renner at her most contemplative and retrospective. Even the harmonic progressions themselves seem to ruminate, often simply oscillating between two chords, laying a foundation for her beautiful melodies to soar, while always feeling more meditative than repetitive. Two prime examples are found in 'Same, Same But Different' and 'A Promise of Hope,' which, while both from totally different stylistic palettes, allow their narratives to take centre stage; when their harmonic directions eventually deviate, it's a genuine treat for the ears and heart. Perhaps the biggest surprise on this album comes in the form of 'Faithful,' which showcases Renner's ability to flex genuine compositional muscle. The layered ostinati and disjunct melodic lines create a beautifully effective perpetual motion which pulls us along for the ride - a ride on which we are only too happy to go. 'The One' and 'Invisible' also serve to highlight Renner's deft skill at writing simply beautiful songs, but truth be told, we already knew that.
While there are just too many to list individually, you need only look at the impressive roster of locally- and internationally-renowned guest artists on this album to be assured of the quality of her work, with the masterful support of Jarrad Payne at Wizard Tone Studios (and Sam Leske of The Lair for 'A Horse Called Pablo'). Kathie Renner is a certifiable gem on the landscape of original Australian music, and, in this humble reviewer's opinion, we should be grateful that the songs of 'Inside My Head' did not remain there.
Martin Cheney | Composer | Pianist
“There’s an undeniable quality to Kathie Renner’s music. I think it’s a number of elements that make her music endure past a casual listen and into an aural experience.
The individual instruments that colour her music have space in which to breathe and be appreciated for their subtle nuances. Each breath or pluck allows for the human ambience to be felt and heard while at the same time they weave together to create a united voice of pure aural delirium.
There is also the element of Kathie’s bell-like clarity to her voice that calms and reassured as it lilts over sometimes complex harmony.
Her compositions are also musically intelligent and saturated with anecdotal relevance.
The sensation of listening to Kathie’s musical creations is akin to consuming a master chef’s fare of delicate flavours each enhancing the other to greater levels of flavoursome ecstasy...and I was there to capture the event with my cameras!”
Derek McClure | Photographer/Artist | Bass
Review: Kathie Renner & The Search Party
The Studio | Holden Street Theatres
Sunday 29th August, 2pm
I rarely have the opportunity to visit the Holden Street Theatres, but the warm and intimate venue was the perfect place to see and hear a concert by Kathie Renner and The Search Party.The well-attended show was opened by guitarist Hugh Stuckey, a musician we don't see often enough on Adelaide stages but, hopefully, his relatively recent return to Australia from the United States will offer more opportunities for him to perform locally. He's a musician not to be missed. Stuckey sat quietly in front of his amplifier, stage right, and allowed his semi-acoustic guitar to do all the talking. His fluent and fluid hybrid picking was clean and precise as he seemed to blend classical and jazz feels with an unhurried ease. I had assumed that the evocative and emotion-filled pieces were originals, until three pieces in I was able to recognise the familiar strains of Bye Bye Blackbird amongst the complex chording and intricate melodic phrases that poured effortlessly from his instrument. It wasn't until he back announced the four pieces he played as, I Fall In Love Too Easily, Strange Meeting, Bye Bye Blackbird, and Throughout, that I realised that he was actually playing extant works by other composers. His performance was subtle, understated, and utterly enchanting. A highly skilled and tasteful performer, whose shows everyone should keep an eye, and an ear open for.
Kathie Renner joined Stuckley, with special guest Martin Cheney on electric piano, to offer one piece from her 2019 solo album, by way of a segue into the main concert. The presentation of the piece, The One, featured Renner's clear, clean, and very assured vocals against the shimmering backdrop of Stuckey and Cheney's restrained and uncluttered accompaniment. The work felt like a song from a musical theatre piece, and featured Renner's characteristically complex and well-crafted lyrics, and her perfect enunciation and easy stage manner allowed the audience intimate access to this deeply personal narrative.
After an interval of about 45 seconds, the band entered the stage. Kathie Renner on acoustic guitar, keyboards, and vocals, Hugh Stuckey, playing yet another beautiful semi-acoustic guitar, Steve Todd, on a rather complex drum kit and hand percussion, and the very well known Shaun Duncan, on five-string bass guitar. The band that Renner had assembled was absolutely perfect for the performance that she had planned, each player a formidable force in their own right, yet extraordinarily sensitive to the material being presented.
Todd's percussion work was remarkable. His apparently effortless movements, around a kit filled with unusually expressive tools, formed a gentle soundscape that was more melodic than supportive. The familiar use of percussion to underpin songs and solos via purely rhythmic devices was augmented with delicate punctuations to Renner's narrative that lifted the songs, rather than just forming a foundation on which they could be laid.
Duncan's bass was in perfect synch with Todd's percussion, and yet wove a unique path through the songs, offering a barked-out solo here and a high-pitched journey up the neck there, each time emphasising the lyrics, the story being told, rather than slavishly following the chord progressions in Renner's often riff-based compositions.
Stuckey continued as he had begun, with subtle and gentle support and virtuosic solos that exhibited not even the smallest indication of ego. Each of these fine players was on stage for one purpose and one purpose only, to highlight and enhance Renner's work in the most unobtrusive way possible. It was a masterclass in restraint and a perfect example of the 'less is more' philosophy that is so very difficult to accomplish, and therefore rarely witnessed.
Renner herself has an easy, comfortable feeling on stage. It is where she's supposed to be, and that easiness allows an audience to relax and completely immerse themselves in the work being presented. Her chat is witty and informative, and her personable nature soon captivates an audience. Her backstories, told with such integrity, wit, and confidence, leave the listener feeling like they are in conversation with an old and trusted friend. The songs themselves defy categorisation as they move from jazz to folk, from Latin beats to pop simplicity, while rarely reliant upon the verse/chorus, verse/chorus format that many songwriters find themselves falling into.
Renner's songs are stories, personal narratives that allow us into the character, history, and philosophy of the writer, yet are broad and familiar enough for an audience to easily identify with them. Her lyrics are clear and poignant, her voice, often used as another instrument, as her nonverbal vocalisations add yet another potential direction within the song structure. There were so many flavours on offer, each one as tasty as its predecessor, and each one presented with the care and attention to detail as a five-star feast. This was a thoroughly entertaining and engaging show that held the audience spellbound, and those musicians amongst it enthralled and very impressed.
Inside My Head
Produced by Kathie Renner, Shaun Duncan & Steve Todd
Recorded and mastered by Jarrad Payne at Wizardtone Studios, Hendon, Adelaide, South Australia
except "A Horse Called Pablo" which was produced by Sam Leske for The Lair Studios
All songs by Kathie Renner except "Vincent" by Don McLean
Horn arrangements by Rod Ennis (A Horse Called Pablo),
and Dave Polain (A Cautionary Tale & Inside My Head)
String arrangement for 'Invisible' by Belinda Gehlert
Percussion: Steve Todd; Bass: Shaun Duncan; Vocals, Keyboards & Piano: Kathie Renner; extra keyboard: Dave McEvoy (Inside My Head & Same, Same But Different) & Martin Cheney (The One); extra guitars by Hugh Stuckey (A Cautionary Tale, The One & There Was A Time); Flute: Adam Page; Flugelhorns: Rob Chenoweth; Trombones: Dave Polain & Dave Winnall; Violins: Belinda Gehlert & Emma Perkins; Viola: Karen De Nardi; Cello: Gemma Phillips.
"A Horse Called Pablo" - Guitars: Sam Leske, Bass: Damien Steele Scott, Percussion: Tim Irrgang, Flugelhorns: Rod Ennis, Vocals: Kathie Renner