MP3 Kim McLean - Rapunzel´s Escape
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14 MP3 Songs in this album (52:51) !
Related styles: COUNTRY: Contemporary Country, COUNTRY: Americana
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Overview/Liner Notes/Track by Track
By PHIL SWEETLAND
Music and Radio contributor
The New York Times
Rapunzel, in Grimmâs Fairy Tales, was a lovely maiden imprisoned in a tower by an evil witch. In her loneliness, Rapunzel sings to herself, and her songs are eventually heard by a prince. The only way for the prince to reach Rapunzel and eventually free her is to use her long, golden hair as a ladder into the tower. There is indeed a song about Rapunzel here, but it never contains the phrase âRapunzelâs Escape.â Kim McLean instead chose that phrase as the title of the album and we see that perhaps sheâs as much escaping to something as from something.
Sheâs long been one of musicâs most gifted songwriters and producers for other artists, but Rapunzel allows Kimâs own remarkable gifts as an artist to take center stage.
Perhaps the story began back when her music education was cruelly halted by an eating disorder that nearly cost Kim her life and forced her to withdraw soon after she was accepted to the elite piano conservatory at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Recently, McLean received both her Bachelorâs and Masterâs degrees with honors in just five-and-a-half years from Trevecca University, gaining her escape âtoâ that long overdue education and a position as Adjunct Professor of Songwriting.
Kim McLeanâs Appalachi-Groove Style
Kim McLeanâs original musical delivery is unique, self-described as âAppalachi-groove.â Her heritage combines Irish, Cherokee, and Appalachian strains, all of which magically appear in her songs. As a little girl, she adored listening to her grandmother â a pianist and songwriter herself â play the piano, teaching Kim everything from Chopin to Fats Wallerâs boogie-woogie. As a result McLeanâs style, sometimes beautifully summarized as âMountains-Meet-Memphis,â showing up in the fact that sheâs not only written several Country hits but also recently contributed a song to Bettye LaVetteâs (The First Lady of Soul) Grammy-nominated Blues album.
In the late Sixties, we began to hear about what was then a new concept in Pop music, the âsinger/songwriter.â James Taylor, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King emerged as early superstars of that genre. Kim has some Joni influences, along with Tom Petty and J.J. Cale,
â¦but perhaps itâs better to call her a âSongwriter/Singerâ than the other way around. Her songs have always come first, and everything else stems from that creative process.
Rapunzelâs Escape â The Musicians
One of the joys of Rapunzelâs Escape is the opportunity to hear many of Nashvilleâs top session players at their very best. Yudkin combines with Russ Pahl (steel/Dobro), John D. Willis (electric
guitar/mandolin/banjo), Catherine Marx and Michael Rojas (keyboards), David Hungate (bass), and Eddie Bayers Jr. (drums) to provide the perfect backgrounds for McLeanâs simple, yet complex, songs and her own percussive acoustic-guitar work.
Cut by Cut
Itâs almost as if the 14 songs on Rapunzelâs Escape came from 14 different albums or 14 different artists â but happily we find them all in once place. Great songs have come from Kimâs pen and soul for years, and now we get to hear them as they came to her, the songwriterâs rendition of her own creations, as she lived them in Rapunzelâs Escape.
1. Ainât No Glory on the Ground (Kim McLean/Kevin Fisher)
When we hear the opening line of this hooky rocker, as Kim sings âlife took a nosedive late last fall,â we figure we may be in for some tough times. But instead, this is a song and a story of triumph, as the singer escapes the heartaches and limits of the ground and says, âPardon me if I fly.â John D. Willisâs electric guitar is a perfect counterpart to McLeanâs vocal, especially in the second verse, in a very Radio-friendly song that would make a terrific single. The production, combining electric and acoustic guitars, layered vocals, and tons of hooks, is influenced as much by The Beatles as by Nashville.
2. Born To Be Happy (Kim McLean/Devon OâDay)
McLeanâs songs feature stark contrasts, and âBorn To Be Happyâ is an excellent example as the minor-key verses are subdued and longing, but the major-key choruses are joyful and rocking.
3. Rapunzel (Heart Of Heavy Stone) â By Kim McLean/Lisa Brokop
In âRapunzel,â McLean and the fine Canadian singer and songwriter Lisa Brokop craft a Pop-flavored gem about self-doubt and eventual acceptance and self-confidence. Thereâs a fascinating shift in this song, from a first verse rooted in fantasy and the Rapunzel story to a second in which a mature singer separates fact from fiction and recognizes that the reality can be exciting too.
Musically, this is one of Kimâs best pieces, especially in the unusual climbing chords of the chorus. Lyrically, her image of counterbalancing life forces â accepting the strength that the âheart of heavy stoneâ provides â is another wonder.
4. Beautiful Goodbye (Kim McLean/Jennifer Hanson)
This was a Top 20 Country debut single in 2002 on Capitol Nashville for Hanson, and now at last we get to hear Kimâs own version of it. Itâs sort of like finally getting to read the book on which a movie was based; we hear far more in the song than ever before.
5. All We Ever Find (Kim McLean/Liz Rose)
âAll We Ever Findâ is a bittersweet ballad, emphasizing the importance of living in the moment. The singer plays the part of the listenerâs counselor or pastor here, urging them to âsay exactly how ya feel.â
We must take note here of the understated arrangement, which is such a pleasure to hear when we are so often bombarded with heavy, pop-driven production nowadays. Instead, Kimâs productions have a real sense for what to leave out as well as for what to leave in at the studio. The resulting arrangements serve as a perfect complement for Kimâs plaintive, always pleasing vocals.
6. Let Go Let Love (Kim McLean/Phil Swann)
This song opens with a mysterious-sounding guitar, setting the stage for a verse that asks many questions and provides few answers. The answers that do come are in a big sing-able chorus that shows off her gift of commercial songwriting. A fun thing is the patterns and doubles within the song (âflyinâ or fallin,â âa whisper, a need, a reaction, a beautiful emotionâ). This is sophisticated writing, but like all the great ones they make it sound so easy.
7. Cracks in the Concrete (Kim McLean/Lisa Brokop)
This oneâs rockinâ Country, with mandolins, electric guitars, and drums providing the beat. Thatâs fitting for a âroad songâ celebrating freedom and escape. The singerâs just been through a tough break, and decides to get over it by hitting the road. Itâs a good-natured tune about dealing with a hard realities, and McLean has as much fun singing it as we do hearing it.
8. Elisabeth (Kim McLean/Liz Rose)
How do we explain the real life tragedy and blessings of a young girl whoâs both beaten the odds and been beaten by them during her short life? Is a life less worth living if there is less of it to live? Doctors told Elisabeth sheâd never live to her sixteenth birthday, but she did. She finished school and heard this song sung around the world before she left us. âElisabeth, youâre a teacher and a saint,â Kim sings, touching us the way Elton Johnâs âDanielâ and Christopher Crossâs âThink Of Laura,â beautifully did with love and loss and triumph. Kim McLean is a story-singer, and this true story in song is a perfect example.
9. A Beautiful Day With You (Kim McLean/Wally Wilson)
Kim explores the harsh realities here of todayâs world â from anorexic girls to homeless folks everywhere â and wonders âis this heaven or hell?â Itâs a good question, and a very good song with a unique drive and a fun chorus â âtechnically speaking, thereâs nothing worth keepinâ but a beautiful day with youâ â showing McLean at her quirky smiling best. Another subtle aspect of âBeautiful Dayâ is that in the end, the only solution to the worldâs grown-up problems is to act like a kid again. The final line, after all, is âI just want to play with you!â
10. Always Know (Kim McLean/Devon OâDay)
Like much of Kimâs best work, this song is in many ways a hymn.
âAlways Knowâ features one of McLeanâs musical specialties â phrasing. Lines like âeach time a branch was bentâ or âeach time a momentâs spentâ provide such cool rhythmic shadings that she does almost without thinking, elevating her music to a higher place.
11. Break The Glass (Kim McLean/Jennifer Hanson)
Nashville artists have written about alcoholism since the earliest days of Country and this song gives a new perspective on a very old and vexing disease. Kim tell the drinker in no uncertain terms that if he continues along the same path, he may be digging his own grave. âI can only do so much,â they tell him, âonly you can break the glass.â
12. China (Kim McLean/Liz Rose)
This is the most harrowing song on the album. Itâs the only waltz, and Jonathan Yudkinâs string arrangement adds a warm blanket to this sad but uplifting song.
âWhen I finally left, I left for me.â
When she did so, she left behind all the trappings of her earlier life â a comfortable house with fine china (the origin of the title), and memories of what once was a blessed love, and a nice neighborhood with lots of friends. Nowadays, as many marriages seem to end in divorce as donât, and a moving song like âChinaâ figures to help countless folks cope with a situation that often seems impossible. Waltzes are all too rare these days, but Kimâs musical trip to âChinaâ makes us want to hear more.
13. Any Day (Kim McLean/Rick Ferrell)
This is a pure rocker, with a cool Tom Petty-Fleetwood Mac-Bruce Springsteen feel like in âBadlandsâ, nice and big. Once again on âAny Day,â we see Kim McLeanâs amazing versatility.
14. Because Godâs Good (Kim McLean/Dwight Wiles/Phil Johnson)
Church services often close with a prayer, so a musical prayer closes this terrific album. âBecauseâ is a very funky song, with a strong R&B and Southern Gospel feel. But just as Elvis took Southern Gospel and fused it with popular styles, this one has lyrics that would fit into a hymnal but joins them with music that would fit in a dance club.
As always, Kim sings with great confidence. And she should be confident. Sheâs just made a sensational album!
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