Fam­ily Ties

Exclaim! - - REVIEWS - LAURA STAN­LEY

Kaia Kater

Gre­nades

Kaia Kater, while ex­plor­ing her fam­ily’s his­tory, is daz­zling and more con­fi­dent than ever be­fore. The most no­table dif­fer­ence be­tween Gre­nades and Kater’s pre­vi­ous work is her use of an ex­panded folk palette. Pro­duced by Erin Costelo, Gre­nades’ placid­ity is lux­u­ri­ous. Kater’s once-com­mand­ing banjo is now folded into lush lay­ers of in­stru­men­ta­tion. In the case of stand­out tracks “New Colos­sus” and “Gre­nades,” banjo is not present at all; in­stead, the tracks shim­mer with the dul­cet tones of Chris­tine Bougie’s gui­tar. This sonic tran­quil­ity feels like a balm for the vi­o­lent im­agery scat­tered through­out Gre­nades. Heavy rain com­pared to car­pet bombs and Kater’s fa­ther’s de­scrip­tions of the U.S. in­va­sion of Gre­nada are some of the more vivid mo­ments. But out from this tur­bu­lence, Kater closes Gre­nades on a hope­ful note. The jour­ney that Kater takes lis­ten­ers on here is ex­pan­sive and emo­tional, and while the road may be bumpy, Kater deftly guides you and makes Gre­nades a treat to lis­ten to. (Acro­nym, acronymrecords.com)

Were there sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween writ­ing your first EP, Old Soul, in 2013 and Gre­nades?

Yes and no. I think that the orig­i­nal EP was the clos­est I’ve got­ten to writ­ing about my life and my per­sonal his­tory. I got fur­ther and fur­ther away from that when I went to study in the States, be­cause I was so con­sumed with learn­ing other peo­ple’s his­to­ries re­flect­ing on mu­sic. So [ Gre­nades] is al­most like a re­turn to that. FOLK

What was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind writ­ing about your dad’s em­i­gra­tion from Gre­nada to Canada?

I want to say that it’s be­cause of ev­ery­thing that has been go­ing on since 2016. I put out Nine Pin in May [2016] and started tour­ing heav­ily in the States, and then the world kind of im­ploded. I want to say that was al­ways a vis­ceral pres­ence, but I don’t want to say that [ Gre­nades is] an out­wardly po­lit­i­cal al­bum. I think it just co­in­cided with me mov­ing back home, back to Toronto. Also all of these con­ver­sa­tions around im­mi­gra­tion sto­ries and the fact that I never re­ally asked my dad about his.

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