– Oct 20, 2017
Mary Kastle conjures haunting melodies
BCIT “The Link” Newspaper – September 13, 2007
In a Ritalin-choked music world laden with egos, tabloid fodder and stretched Hummer limousines it’s refreshing to find a simple moment of clarity. It takes about three bars on the debut CD [Fresh Air] by Montreal born Mary Kastle to achieve this moment, and to realize that some people were born to sing.
The production on Fresh Air is sparse, but it rarely matters, as Kastle flows through the high octaves like a tranquil stream and conjures haunting melodies from the keys of her piano. The six song disc, which Kastle herself admits is just a small leg of her musical journey, may not be an arrival, but is certainly a beacon letting people know her notoriety is imminent.
I spoke with Kastle, via phone, from Kelowna where she is starting a tour that will see her perform eighteen times in the next month and take her to venues in five provinces.
“I love being on the road,” says Kastle, “it gives me a chance to not worry about the little things in life. I just get to play music, and take care of my responsibilities as an artist.”
If her hectic schedule would seem overwhelming, Kastle does not travel with a band – only her piano, you will not hear any signs of burden in her voice. After all, barely a year ago she was playing covers and show tunes on a cruise ship. This experience might disconnect some artist from their path, but Kastle took playing daily for “a lot of baby boomers” as a chance to “get into the headspace of different artists” like Billy Joel and Elton John. It also led her to meet John Mulrenan who produced the title track on Fresh Air.
“John was a good source of positive reinforcement,” says Kastle, “we recorded Fresh Air in one take and he wouldn’t let me know listen to it afterwards. It showed that he believed in my abilities.”
The one take approach worked, as Fresh Air is definitely an emotional piece of sound. From its opening piano notes to its rousing vocal chorus the song makes me want to call my ex-girlfriend and apologize for random misgivings. The opening track “The Moments we Lost” is like a martini in some gin joint where everyone is sweating through their formal outfits. Track two, aptly named “Bell”, is the most intriguing piece on the album. The piano seems to be bi-polar (in a good way) drifting from near silence into climaxing notes, mixed with vocals ranging from a whisper to full singing. The true gem on the album in song five “Perfect all the Time.” If there were a song to crossover into new audiences for Kastle, this would be it. It is part Tori Amos with a pinch of Erykah Badu, causing immediate head bops and “Night at the Roxbury” neck spasms. The vocal harmonies mixed with some competent drum and bass work gives this track a very contemporary feel. The song shows the potential of Kastle’s music when she has a rhythm section riding shotgun on a record, which is my only grievance with Fresh Air.
The rhythm section falls short on tracks that require drums or bass to accentuate the vocals and piano. This being said, talent like Kastle’s only remains without band mates for so long. I highly recommend Fresh Air to jazz enthusiasts and metal headed punks, like me, who want to impress people by showing a sophisticated and sensitive side of their pallet.
Fulcrum News – University of Ottawa
Mary Kastle’s debut EP is a beautiful and heartfelt collection of six jazz-pop songs. Kastle has an excellent voice and is a great piano player, resulting in one delectable song after another. Minimalist backing drums, bass, and guitar give the EP a little extra polish, but for the most part Kastle dominates the recordings. Fresh Air is a promising start to her career and, with a full-length album due out next year, she looks like an artist on the rise. A – David McClellan
Since releasing her debut demo CD, Fresh Air, this past January, Mary Kastle has been racking up kudos as an up-and-coming artist to watch. The musical performer at Room’s 30th birthday party in March 2007, Mary delighted the crowd with her lush piano melodies and smart lyrics. Self-described as “Miles Davis meets Tori Amos,” this Vancouver-based singer/songwriter blends influences of jazz and pop to create a sound all her own. Her soulful voice soars with social and political commentary and themes of love and loss. After finishing an east coast tour this fall, Mary will be heading back into the studio to record her debut full-length CD. Due for release in 2008, it’ll be one worth waiting for. – Lana Okerlund
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