Long before she won the hearts of millions on American Idol in her early 20s, Kree Harrison was immersed in the musical aesthetic of Nashville, an R&B-infused country singer/songwriter living in, being nurtured by and developing her craft with the multi-talented creatives there. Six years after her triumphant run on the show, the Season 12 runner-up is launching an exciting new phase of her career, signing an exclusive recording and publishing agreement as the flagship artist for the newly launched Music City based indie label One Vision Music Group, a subsidiary of Visionary Media Group.
Leading up to the release of her highly anticipated label debut – and first full length collection since 2016’s This Old Thing – Chosen Family Tree, Kree has released two singles: the lilting, easy grooving and ultimately soaring “I Love The Lie” (co-penned by Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton and Liz Rose) and the suspense filled, powerhouse torchy ballad “Get Away With Anything,” which is closing in on 100,000 Spotify streams.
Perfect showcases for Kree’s fascinating emotional range that works magic whether she’s playing it cool sensual and soulful or more hard-hitting and rockin’, these two instantly infectious gems were the backbone, foundation and opening tracks at her recent show at The Hotel Café. Backed by her hard driving seven-piece band featuring Jason Martin on guitar, Ty Bailie on keys and Ben Peeler on steel pedal guitar, the dynamic, kick ass from start to finish performance was an eye and ear opening introduction to nine of the tracks we’ll be hearing soon on Chosen Family Tree. Throughout her charismatic, stage owning performance, one thought kept occurring to me: she’s got all the vocal chops of Idol turned country superstar Carrie Underwood, but with more raw edges and a helluva lot more soul and sensuality.
Kree brings many different vibes to her music, sometimes (as with “Make It Easy”) starting a song out gently with tinges of trad-country melancholy before unleashing her passionate rock energy to emphasize her thematic thrust. On “Stone Cold,” she went full-on bluesy in the midst of her trademark soul/country funk style, complete with an audience clap-along section. She followed that with the poignant, restrained “Hearts Get Broken” an ode to a traditional country style that seems all but lost in today’s world favoring shimmering pop, radio ready productions.
“Nothing In this World,” which finds Kree resolving to never have her heart broken again, blends the best of both worlds, blending exquisite power balladry with old school country, complete with some steel twang. Her set also included the country funk/rock jam “Lie with Me”; a fresh pop/rock flavored twist on “The Chokin’ Kind,” first popularized by Waylon Jennings in 1967; and “Chosen Family Tree,” a blues-inflected, heart-piercing autobiographical tune Kree calls her “therapy session” about moving to Nashville at age 10 and developing a group of friends, collaborators and supporters that taught her the power of the bonds we choose.