Livestream New York
Material: Kate Schutt’s brand of indie songwriting comes from a highly personal place. Her set, hosted by the Postcrypt Coffeehouse in anticipation of her latest release, Bright Nowhere, covers the trials and tribulations she endured while caring for her mother over the four-year illness that ultimately took her life.
In “Fight The Good Fight,” Schutt tells her mother that she doesn’t have to put on a brave face for her: Are you scared that giving in is giving up/…What’s the point of saving face/ Maybe that’s the saving grace/ You’re learning how to let me share the load. In “Roll The Stone Back,” perhaps the most “hooky” and musically memorable of the collection, we hear the positive side of how Schutt likes to remember her: I love it when you smile like that/ roll the stone back. In “Bighearted,” the lone song with a different subject matter, Schutt grapples with feelings about the recent election, the political and personal division it created in relationships. In this well-put simile Schutt tells us: I got this friend/ he’s a republican/ and me/ I’m as blue as the Pacific Ocean…/ There’s got to be a way to reach this great divide… What if we were bighearted?
Musicianship: NPR called her voice “glassily clear and glossily sweet,” an apt description. She never over-sings and every word comes through clearly; important when the songs are centered on stories and conversations. Schutt knows her way around the guitar, going beyond strumming.
Performance: Kate Schutt is a storyteller, not only within the song itself, but with the back story that preceeds it. She admits that, for a year, she did not play guitar or write songs, as it was easier to tackle addressing the crisis when it was in the rear-view mirror. It’s clear that this artist's mother was a formidable presence in her life, and though she gave plenty of description about her mom’s personality and the details regarding her illness, not as much was expressed about how, specifically, Schutt was impacted overall by their relationship, which would have added even more poignancy to the set.
Summary: Schutt’s unfettered honesty is laudable. More emphasis on how this artist’s overall life was affected by her mother, who obviously loomed large, would have offered even more emotional complexity. Bright Nowhere was released on April 30–– appropriately enough, right before Mother’s Day weekend.