UPON THE RELEASE OF MAKING ME BREAK, MALONEY LANDED ON SPIN MAGAZINES ARTIST TO WATCH, WITH ENTHUSIASTIC REVIEWS FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST, CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND, AND NO DEPRESSION. THE LAST SONG ON THE RECORD, NIGHTSTAND DRAWER, BECAME MALONEYS FIRST MAJOR TELEVISION SONG PLACEMENT ON THE CBS SERIES ELEMENTARY.
AS A SIGNATURE SOUNDS ARTIST, MALONEY HAS TOURED NATIONALLY AS A HEADLINER AS WELL AS IN SUPPORT OF ACTS LIKE LAKE STREET DIVE, RODRIGO Y GABRIELA, GARY CLARK JR., COLIN HAY, MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER, AND MANY MORE. IN 2014 SHE COLLABORATED WITH THE RISING BOSTON QUARTET DARLINGSIDE ON THE WOODSTOCK EP, A TRIBUTE TO THE JONI MITCHELL-WRITTEN / CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG-COVERED 60S ANTHEM. THE COVER WAS FEATURED ON THE NEW YORK TIMES AND GARNERED ATTENTION FROM GRAHAM NASH HIMSELF, WHO CALLED THE PERFORMANCE, DELICIOUS, REALLY EXCELLENT.
RAISED ON A RECORD PLAYER INSTEAD OF A TV, MALONEY DUG DEEP INTO PER PARENTS RECORD COLLECTIONS FOR ENTERTAINMENT, OBSESSING OVER THE BEATLES JONI MITCHELL, FLEETWOOD MAC, C.S.N.Y., BOB DYLAN, AND MORE. SO ITS NO SURPRISE THAT THE FOLK, POP, AND ROCK GREATS OF THE 60S AND 70S FOUND THEIR WAY INTO HER OWN MUSIC. WITH THOSE INFLUENCES AS A FOUNDATION, AND A STRONG DOSE OF 90S RADIO HITS (FROM WOMEN LIKE FIONA APPLE, ALANIS MORISETTE, BONNIE RAITT, SHERYL CROW, AND OF COURSE, MARIAH CAREY), MALONEY WAS FORMING HER SOUND LONG BEFORE SHE EVEN WROTE A SINGLE LYRIC.
ACCORDING TO HER MOTHER, HER SINGING CAREER BEGAN IN THE AISLES OF A NORTHERN NEW JERSEY GROCERY STORE, WHERE SHE DEVELOPED A REPUTATION FOR SERENADING SHOPPERS. THE WRITING WOULD COME MUCH LATER, AFTER SPENDING THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF HER EARLY 20S IN A STATE OF SELF-PROCLAIMED MUSICAL A.D.D.. AFTER TRAINING HER VOICE IN CLASSICAL OPERATIC, IMPROVISATIONAL JAZZ AND CLASSICAL INDIAN VOCAL TECHNIQUES, MALONEY WAS SUDDENLY AND OVERWHELMINGLY COMPELLED TO DROP ALL THINGS MUSICAL. TO QUIT MAKING SOUNDS OR NOISE, ALTOGETHER.
SHE FOUND HERSELF LIVING AT A SILENT MEDITATION RETREAT CENTER IN CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS, WHERE SHE WOULD PRACTICE FOR ALMOST 3 YEARS, STUDYING AND VIPASSANA MEDITATION, POURING OVER RUMI AND RILKE, AND KEEPING A JOURNAL DOCUMENTING DAILY LIFE AT HER COTTAGE IN THE WOODS. IT WAS IN THIS PLACE OF QUIET THAT, IRONICALLY, SHE BEGAN WRITING HER FIRST SONGS. SONGS LARGELY INSPIRED BY HER EXPERIENCES IN MEDITATION, INCLUDING EQUAL PARTS OF THE DARK / UNCOMFORTABLE / TWISTED PARTS OF THE HUMAN MIND, AS WELL AS THE SPARKLING AND BRIEF MOMENTS OF THAT LONGED-FOR, EVER ELUSIVE THING CALLED INSIGHT. MALONEY SAID THAT IF SHE HADNT STARTED WRITING SONGS AT THE MEDITATION CENTER, SHE WOULD BE COMPLETELY COVERED IN TATTOOS, BECAUSE EACH SONG IS ABOUT SOMETHING I REALLY, REALLY WANT TO REMEMBER BADLY SO I WOULDNT HAVE TO GO THROUGH IT AGAIN.
AND WITH THE SAME SUDDEN AND OVERWHELMING RESOLVE THAT LED HER TO THE MEDITATION CENTER IN THE FIRST PLACE, SHE RE-EMERGED INTO THE MUSIC SPACE WITH A GUITAR AND A FEW SONGS THAT MEANT SOMETHING TO HER. IN THE YEARS SINCE MALONEY HAS LEFT HER LIFE OF SILENCE AND REFLECTION, SHE HAS TOURED ALMOST CONSTANTLY, WRITTEN HUNDREDS OF SONGS, AND SLEPT ON CLOSE TO ONE THOUSAND DIFFERENT PILLOWS.
Since first planting roots within the Canadian music scene in 2011, Ken Yates has steadily grown a reputation as one of the countrys brightest singer/songwriters. His sound offers the complete packageunforgettable melodies, emotionally charged storytelling, and top-notch guitar chopsall gloriously displayed on Yates new album, Huntsville.
Produced by Jim Bryson (Weakerthans, Kathleen Edwards, Oh Susanna), Yates second full-length effort is a major stylistic step forward, with its 11 tracks capturing his artistic evolution amid extensive touring over the past three years. Along with handling production duties, Brysons abilities as a multi-instrumentalist were fully deployed during sessions at North of Princess Studio in Kingston, Ontario, leading a band that included Brian Dunne on guitars/vocals, James Preston on bass, Marshall Bureau on drums, and guest vocalist Amanda Rheaume.
For Yates, the stars were aligned throughout the creation of Huntsville, beginning with a balanced mix of road-tested and brand new material amassed before hitting the studio. Yates only pre-conceived notion for the album was to move forward from his last album and let Bryson put his years of experience to work.
After playing some of these songs live, you start getting attached to how you think they should sound, Yates explains. I originally had in mind that this would be mostly a solo acoustic record, but I told myself going into the studio not to be too precious about my own ideas. The best part was, with that in mind, I was able to let go of some of that control and told Jim to run with it. Hed say, Lets try things my way and if you dont like it, well press the mute button. But I loved all of his ideas, and thats when I understood what a great collaboration it would be.
Keep Your Head Down, with its subtle, driving groove, opens the album like a train pulling out at dawn, with vast, open vistas lying ahead. Those come into focus on other key tracks such as Once More To The Lake, Roll Me On Home and The Best Part Of Leaving. Yet, everywhere on the album, echoes of the Canadian songwriting tradition, from Gordon Lightfoot to Bruce Cockburn to Ron Sexsmith, are apparent, proving that with Huntsville, Ken Yates is ready to join that exalted company.
Choosing to name Huntsville after a song hed written about a small northern Ontario town is a further indication of Yates musical vision. Its a place that I love, he says. A lot of the songs were inspired by what you could say was a northern Ontario landscape, but that song in particular is about leaving everything behind, traveling up north and staying there. After I wrote the line, If them mornings dont shine how you like, find a night to dream into, I felt like it represented the whole album in way, which is why I decided to make it the title track.
A native of London, Ontario (a few hours drive south of Huntsville), Yates studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. His first release, The Backseat EP, came out in 2011, whereupon he got a chance to showcase for fellow Berklee alum John Mayer, who responded with a lengthy blog post that read in part, Ken Yates wrote a song called I Dont Wanna Fall In Love. This song moved me when I first heard it, and it still does today.
That track became one of the standouts on Yates 2013 full-length debut, twenty-three, made after a year of pounding the pavement in New York City. It also became his introduction to the life of a touring musician, and his diligence in that area soon built a devoted group of admirers, one town at a time.
At this point, touring still feels fresh to me, and at least half the songs on Huntsville came out of experiences Id had on the road, Yates says. Going back to some of these places kind of feels like visiting old friends now. Im still mainly playing solo, but making this record has really motivated me to start playing moreand hopefully biggershows with a band.
Ken Yates is a rare example of someone who, from the beginning, had clear intentions when he embraced the troubadour life, and the combined drive and talent to make it a reality. With Huntsville, he has now closed the chapter on those early days, and is ready to open a new and exciting one, without any limits holding back his artistic ambition.