Karyn Kuhl sings about spiritual renewal on two new releases (LISTEN HERE)

karyn kuhl no traces



Singer-songwriter and guitarist Karyn Kuhl should have been selling out White Eagle Hall in Jersey City by now. With all of her passion, charisma and talent, she deserves that spot, and I am awaiting her ascendance.

The Bloomfield-born Kuhl lives in Hoboken and has been part of the city’s music scene since the ’80s, in bands including Gut Bank, Sexpod and, currently, Karyn Kuhl & the Gang. She will be accompanied by Gang guitarist Charlie Nieland when she opens for singer-songwriter Jill Sobule at The Outpost in the Burbs at Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair, June 9 at 4 p.m.

Kuhl says she was “blown away” by Sobule when she saw her perform recently at 503 Social Club in Hoboken.

Kuhl, in addition to playing her compelling older material, will perform her stunning songs “No Traces” and “The Tower,” both recently released by Dromedary Records. (listen below)

In “No Traces” — produced by Nieland and featuring him on guitar, bass and keyboards and Billy Loose on drums — she reveals her post-punk magic: provocative and poetic lyrics delivered in an elegant, rich and convincing voice over an ethereal, edgy, guitar-drenched sound. As with many of her songs, “No Traces” makes expressions of loss, contemplation and living fully sound resonant and beautiful.

Kuhl says the song’s lyrics were inspired by the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,” by Shunryu Suzuki. She quoted a line from the book’s “No Trace” chapter: “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

“It’s about living in the moment and being fully present in everything you do,” she said, adding “I wanted to recreate an ’80s sound musically and vocally — back when I first started playing and had that beginner’s mind. Both ‘No Traces’ and ‘The Tower’ lyrically explore the idea that only in letting go can one live life fully.”

karyn kuhl 2024



Her music has always been genre-defying, with “No Traces” serving as another example of a blend of a retro and current sound.

She sings in an intimate, urgent whisper:

I was standing on the corner
I was waiting for a friend
The sun rose early morning
Felt the beginning and the end

I was sitting on the loveseat
I was looking to my left
Sunset behind the projects

With betrayal and regret

I was waiting at the station
I turned away from their dead faces
And I remembered what you said

You said love must leave no traces.

Kuhl described “The Tower” — produced by Larry Heinemann and featuring him on bass, James Mastro on guitar and Jonpaul Pantozzi on drums — in a prior interview: “It’s a very dark tune — a meditation on dark times. There’s a card in the Tarot called The Tower that symbolizes a time of inner transformation. It’s a time of deep loss but with the possibility of spiritual renewal.”

She sings:

All that remains is my compassion and trust
As you extract the rotten tooth infected with greedy lust …
I’m jumping from the tower, bare feet land on the grass
There’s a purifying fire and I can’t run too fast
My magic is the potion, I collected it in the ocean

“My definition of magic is creativity and compassion,” she said.

By jumping from “the tower,” she hopes that we are motivated to think interdependently. “Let’s make it a reality by helping each other in whatever way we can,” she said.

The cover of the Karyn Kuhl Band’s 2016 EP, “The Stars Will Bring You Home.”

Kuhl released an album, Song for the Dead, in 2013, and an EP, The Stars Will Bring You Home, in 2016. She plans to finish another album by early fall.

While Kuhl is happy to paint her cats and walk near the water in Hoboken, the stage offers her a moment to free herself from constraints.

She said in a prior interview that her life changed when, at age 14, she saw David Bowie at Madison Square Garden playing songs from his Station to Station album. “I was a good Catholic schoolgirl up until then,” she said. “I had orchestra seats and ran to the railing at the front of the stage to see The Thin White Duke. It was all over after that. It was a spiritual experience and it changed me and I realized I can be who I really am.”

Karyn Kuhl will open for Jill Sobule at The Outpost in the Burbs at Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair, June 9 at 4 p.m. Visit outpostintheburbs.org.

For more on Kuhl, visit Facebook.com/karynkuhlband or instagram.com/karynkuhlband.


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