King in a Temple
Amie Penwell King in a Temple Available November 25, 2008 'Take the voice of an angel and drop it an octave. Amie Penwell's voice has that odd mixture of grit and Polish that makes for great gospel singers. One of those gospel singers who got seduced away by rhythm and blues. The first time you hear it, if you are sitting down, you will want to stand up. If you are standing, you may want to sit down.' "Show me to the river, somewhere to wash away this feeling, these days of disbelieving" Sometimes the sound of someone searching for belief is more powerful than the testimony of someone who's found it. On her debut full-length record, singer/songwriter/pianist Amie Penwell sings with the power and passion of a gospel soloist. But as the subtle layers of her songs unfold, it becomes clear that the spiritual undercurrent comes more from a personal epiphany than a religious one. "I wanted something stripped down and honest. Essential and imperfect. Human," Penwell says. Much of the inspiration for King In A Temple came from the time she spent as a caregiver for Master Artist JB Blunk during the last 6 months of his life in 2002. "The album title "King In A Temple" comes from my first impression of JB Blunk." Amie spent 6 months in 2002 with the Master Artist, as his caregiver while he was dieing from Alzheimer's Disease. "It's a record of our time together, our conversations, our walks, our silences. The record follows all of the emotions one goes through when they are forced to adapt and let go of all that is sacred to them, and of being a witness to someone who has no other way to go but through. When all you can do is listen, love them, help them let go, and zip up their jacket." Like the best of Cat Power, Feist or Chris Whitley, Penwell's songs don't pounce. They pull you in. Grammy-nominated producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Leinbach (Jai Uttal, Taj Majal, Ledisi) provides the pulse and sonic landscape while guitarist Chris Haugen and violist Margot Holtzman color the corners with sparse melodic counterpoints. Penwell, whose influences include Radiohead, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanios, Neil Young, U2, and Prince, wanted more than just a piano/vocal live record. "I knew the record needed balance. It needed percussion, and atmosphere to add groove and expansion with the live solo performance. A record of bare bones honesty, mixed with soulful elevation to ease the pain of it's content." The process began at Prairie Sun Recording (Tom Waits) with 13 microphones around a grand piano. "We pressed record over two days and got what we got," Penwell explains. Tracks like Talking Head's "Naïve Melody", "Walking With You", and "Momentary Cure" were born out of that session. The foundation for the rest of the record was laid by another one-day session of living room recording with Amie on piano and a microphone and Chris Haugen on guitars. Later, she paired up again with Leinbach to add the bass and drums, percussion, mixing and mastering. In 2008, Derek Sivers-indie music pioneer and founder of CD Baby-and Eugene Foley-the music industry guru referred to by many as 'Dr. Gene'-hand picked Penwell out of 500 artists for an 8-week coaching session (on Derek's dime) to help launch the record. Penwell is currently filming a video with for the records opening track, 'Show Me To The River,' with Director Alexander Kieselstein. The track will also be featured in February's Taste Of Triple A, highly regarded sampler put together by Jim Nelson. "On her new CD, King In A Temple, Amie Penwell displays a level of quality not typically heard from a self-released artist. There's an elegance in her arrangements and a passion in her voice that make the entire CD a real enjoyable listen." -Jim Nelson, A Taste Of Triple A In 2009, she will be touring west coast venues in support of the new release.