Kalyn Fay from the album Good Company available on Horton Records (by Julie Wenger Watson)
Since its debut last month, Kalyn Fay’s latest release, Good Company, has met with enthusiastic reviews from both sides of the Atlantic. The collection of ten original songs and one well chosen cover (Malcomb Holcombe’s “Dressed in White”) is testament to this Oklahoma-born songwriter’s talent as both a vocalist and lyricist. Her lovely voice is soulful and haunting, managing to convey nostalgia and longing as readily as hope and acceptance.
There’s a strong sense of place in Kalyn’s music, equally geographic and metaphoric, literal and figurative. She expertly weaves the explicit with the implied in the words themselves and the pictures she paints of her home state. In the refrain of “Oklahoma Hills,” Kalyn sings, ‘And the Oklahoma Hills are singing me a song tonight/They whisper their tales in the wind of pale moonlight, followed by, I’ve been thinking of home/I don’t know what that is/Used to be a place I didn’t visit or miss’. It’s about “home”, the idea and the physical reality, the place you often long to leave and to which you often wish to return.
Produced by Tulsa’s Jesse Aycock (solo, Hard Working Americans), who also serves as an all-purpose multi-instrumentalist sideman, the album is packed full of contributions from Kalyn’s gifted musical friends. That’s John Fullbright you’re hearing on keys and accordion, as well as Jared Tyler and Carter Sampson singing harmony and Paddy Ryan keeping time on drums and percussion, just to name a few. Without a doubt, Kalyn keeps good company, and with this album, you will, too. (Julie Wenger Watson)
Listen and buy music from Kalyn Fay on AMAZON
Q & A with Julie Wenger Watson (Q) and Kalyn Fay (A)
Julie Wenger Watson (JW): Although you tackle universal topics on this album, it also seems to have a real sense of 'place'. You grew up in Oklahoma and now live in Arkansas. Did that influence your writing on this particular release?
Kalyn Fay (KF): I feel like my relationship to Oklahoma is always going to influence my writing. So the answer is absolutely yes, moving away from my home influenced this record. I decided to leave near the close of 2017, and by early 2018 I had confirmed the move, all amidst finishing up songs on the record. I guess the prospect that your home (the land, the people who inhabit it) are going to keep existing and moving forward without you, alongside trying to move forward yourself, really struck a chord with me and pushed me to write some of my most honest lyrics.
JW: I love the title, Good Company. Looking at the credits, you had just that when you recorded. Jesse Aycock produced and played on the record, along with a host of Tulsa-related talent, many of whom are good friends, too. How did that add to this experience and to the end product?
KF: I knew going into the recording process of this album, I wanted to make sure I was staying true to myself. For me, that means being surrounded by people I care about and people that care about me, not just bringing in any old for-hire studio player. There had to be a connection, and I can truthfully say with everyone on this record I have the honor of sharing a genuine friendship. They understood where I was coming from, understood the songs, and helped me make something that resonated with a larger audience than just myself. By the end, it felt less like it was all about me, and more like it was about community. Which is why we landed on the title, Good Company.
JW: These songs are beautiful, and it would be hard for me to pick a favorite, but "Wait for Me" is on frequent rotation. Like many of the tracks on this album, there's an underlying sadness or wistfulness to it, but I don't think this is a sad album. In fact, I sense hope. Am I completely off base?
KF: Thank you for saying so! Yes, I think the tonality of my voice sometimes comes across as sad, but I promise I am happy and hopeful! Ha. "Wait For Me" is the song on the record that is truly my love letter to Oklahoma, and I would definitely use wistful to describe it. However, like many of the songs, it is about a thankfulness for the time spent, the experiences had, and giving a good look back. Simultaneously nostalgic and hopeful was the goal.
JW: Your Cherokee heritage is a significant part of who you are. How (or does) that come into play in your songwriting?
KF: I would say yes. I have a great respect for the land I grew up on, the spaces I grew up in, and I attribute this sense of place to growing up with some of those teachings. I was recently asked if I was a Cherokee songwriter or just a songwriter, and I asked, "what's the difference?" My experiences are always going to be influenced by being a Cherokee woman, and since all my songs are about personal experience, that inevitably comes into play. It's not overtly there, but certainly influenced.
I also chose to use the Cherokee syllabary on the album cover (special thanks to Roy Boney for helping me translate correctly) to normalize the usage of our written language!
For more information on Kalyn Fay, visit www.kalynfay.com or www.hortonrecords.org.