Album Review: Kari Arnett – When The Dust Settles

Americana singer Kari Arnett is currently based in Minneapolis but like so many great artists before her she has a plan to move to Nashville. Her debut album When The Dust Settles is full of quality songwriting and has a rich roots sound which suggests her spirit is already haunting the hallowed streets of Music City. There’s also real resilience and grit in the wise heart of this album.

The atmospheric opening song Dark Water creates a real sense of unease and foreboding. Storms, sinking and drowning are metaphors for the potential darkness in the world. This is a warning, a cautionary tale from someone who’s been down there and thankfully survived. In the darkness you can see forever / Don’t let it drag you down. She offers the listener a hand, a rescue from the murky depths.

On Blood and Bones there’s a lighter touch to the music, even if the song takes a look and the world and wonders what the hell has happened. Still there’s hope here for a better future. I hope we will see the light / maybe one day we will get it right. Western inspired This American Life also confronts the busted myth of the American dream.

One More Chance starts with the crackle of the needle hitting a record. The softer, sweeter nostalgia of this song sounds like it could have walked out of a classic country album. There’s an ache in her voice, conveying the wistful longing that this genre evokes so well. Credit also to the excellent band and production for creating a rich and authentic sound throughout.

One of the most beautiful moments on the record is Breaking Is Easy – a simple song really, but therein lies its power. Life is tough. Sometimes the hardest thing in this world is to live in it. I hope you find the strength to carry on. Don’t you give up now, Arnett sympathetically sings. You can’t help but feel comforted by her compassionate voice.

Starting Over is about longing for another life, (maybe this one is about her dreams of moving to Nashville). Tired of this Town has a similar restlessness. Highways and heartbreaks are the core of country music and Arnett has captured that spirit so well.

Only a Woman is an ironic take on the misogyny plaguing our world today. The wry feminism of her words is so powerful. What do I know? I’m only a woman / just a delicate flower with no opinions. The anger and frustration under the sarcastic surface tells us this is a songwriter unafraid to make her opinions heard. She won’t give in or shut up and sing. Women have been through too much to give up the fight for fairness and equality now.

The War addresses mental health, and the expansive sound allows its power to build slowly. Just like the subject of the song the music is bruised, battered but beautiful. Let go of what weighs you down. Maybe it’s a song for a friend, or for herself, or for all of us. Share the burden and together we can find a new way forward.

Arnett’s intelligent, optimistic and heartfelt songwriting makes listening to this album a real treat from start to finish.

Please consider supporting the artist by purchasing their music HERE: https://kariarnettmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

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