Intimacy has always been a hallmark of Kim Richey’s music. A lover who apologizes that their hesitancy in committing to a relationship is hurting their loved one. A magical, middle-of- the-night walk in a snowbound city where the protagonist wants to keep the mood while worrying that the enchantment might end. A person leaving the home that they’ve shared with a loved one, melancholy yet hopeful of happier times ahead. These are only some of the vignettes that Richey brings to life with masterful attention to emotional detail on her sixth and latest album Wreck Your Wheels.
The two-time Grammy-nominated Richey is a storyteller par excellence; famed critic Timothy White said about Richey that she “entices you with sad and unembellished music that reveals an original spirit – and then she ensnares you for keeps by making you consider all the noiseless sensations that no songs can ever contain.” Her music is tender, poetic and aching with life’s truths. And then there’s her voice. Pure, arresting and honest, her voice is a perfect instrument with which to paint these intimate pictures.The 15-year musical journey that has led Kim to her latest album Wreck Your Wheels has been a dream run. Aside from her two Grammy nods, she has released five critically acclaimed albums, been listed in the ‘Top 10 Albums of 1999’ in Time Magazine for her album Glimmer, been given 4-stars in Rolling Stone, and named ‘Alt-Country Album Of The Year’ in People Magazine for her album Rise. She has written two #1 singles and had four others hit Top 10. Her songs have been recorded Trisha Yearwood and James Morrison among others, sung on albums by Ryan Adams, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter, and even appeared on a William Shatner record produced by Ben Folds. She’s worked with producer legends such as Bill Bottrell (Sheryl Crow, Michael Jackson, Tom Petty) and Hugh Padgham (The Police, XTC, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie), as well as Giles Martin (The Beatles Love) and Steve Earle collaborator Richard Bennett. Her music has been featured in films and TV and has toured all over the world.
Wreck Your Wheels features songwriting collaborations with some of the best co-writers imaginable like Beth Rowley, Will Kimbrough, Mark Olson, Pat McLaughlin, Boo Hewerdine, Mando Saenz and Karl Broadie among others. It’s a testament to the esteem in which Richey is held that she consistently enlists the caliber of writers she does.
After recording her last album in London, Richey returned to Nashville to record with her touring band, this album was all about getting an organic, real sound: no auto-tune, no studio tricks – just five musicians in a room, playing together. “The core band on this record went out on the road with me for my last record Chinese Boxes, and they are friends,” says Kim. “We had a great time making the record – we recorded all in the same room at the same time, which was very cozy. It’s a small studio. We used the front seat of the producer’s Honda pulled up next to the door as an isolation booth for the electric guitar amp.”
Album producer Neilson Hubbard says about the making of the album, “Every record is personal, but how close can the listener get? Some records sparkle and shine. They sit way up on a hill for everyone to marvel at. But does that feel close? Kim wanted to make a record where you could walk around inside. Look in all of the rooms, peer into the shadows, and breathe in the dust, a record you could not only hear, but one you could touch. That’s what our goal was when we set out to make the record. To strip away everything that gets in the way of the listener living inside the song. We tried to frame the voice so that you can feel every crackle and ache. Those were the kinds of records we both liked, where you listen to a singer and you believe every word that leaves their mouth without question.”
This was also the first album that Richey recorded without a label already being involved from the beginning of the recording. “I’ve never made an album without there being a tense moment during the making of the album, but this album was totally free from that. This was the most fun I’ve ever had making a record.” It was only after the album had been completed did she set about finding a home for it, which led her to Thirty Tigers.
The end result is an album that will surely be loved as much as Glimmer and Rise. Wreck Your Wheels is a masterpiece that gets into your head and into your heart… and will stay there.
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