Originally hailing from Virginia but currently living in western North Carolina, Christine Kane is the embodiment of country summers, back porch swings and Southern girls.
Her voice transposes itself from languidly sauntering through fields of tall grass to exuberantly jaunting across an old wooden dance floor.
On Saturday evening, at the release party for her newest album, Rain and Mud and Wild and Green, Kane's vocal juxtapositions shone as she stood alone on a small stage with nothing but her wit and her guitar.
Weaving stories of blue collar work, mother nature, love and such, Kane displayed a talent for emotional, insightful lyrics coupled with less-is-more guitar playing. As she mixed the occasional earlier album work with a majority of songs from Rain and Mud, her development as an artist was apparent.
Her picking is more smooth, musical and complementary to her lilting, often wry words. Which is not to say that Kane has not always been terrific, but she somehow seems more comfortable in her own skin these days.
On the upbeat lamentation of the road work plaguing western North Carolina, "Everything Green," Kane utilized her voice and guitar to their fullest. Serving as her own percussion section, Kane injected the occasional body beat into a John Cougar Mellencamp-flavored melody.
But while Kane might bear the slightest undertones of such influential artists, it is impossible to classify her. The closest comparisons would be Joan Baez's lyricism, Ani DiFranco's feminine irony and Gwen Stefani's physical mannerisms.
In the lighthearted yet pointed social commentary, "(No Such Thing As) Girls Like That" Kane trashed the large-busted, small-waisted groupies in music videos, lingerie models and Barbie. As the song ended, Kane paid tribute to the real women in the world and women who could do a thing or two for themselves: "My favorite girls as women that/Are not afraid to cry and laugh/And eat some food that's high in fat," she sang.
Doing a 180-degree turn from lively country-folk, Kane took a turn as a slower, singer/songwriter type with an almost painfully poignant tune, "Or Just Heading Home." The song is an introspective look at air travel, and Kane said she was recording the song in New York as Sept. 11 made the headlines. While the song is not meant to be a memorial, her voice evoked the day's infamous story without the lyrics themselves trying.
But no matter what story Kane wove, happy or sad, jovial or slightly bitter, her voiced wrapped around each member of the audience like a soft, comforting blanket. She sold herself as a person, as an individual, and not a holier-than-thou "musician" as so many of those who have gotten a taste of fame often do.
Kane's music is simple, friendly and welcoming as, one would assume, she is. As the concert drew to a close, there was a slight feeling of loss, as if story time was over and it was time to step back outside into the cold, cruel world.
Yet with Kane's voice softly ringing in your ears and summer lurking just around the corner, the world should never seem cruel. Rather, it is full of rain and mud, it is wild and green, it is everything Christine Kane.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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