Canadian folk artist Kate Fenner’s new album, Dead Reckoning, reflects a pair of ideas, both expressed in the album’s title.

Fenner explains, “The term ‘dead reckoning,’ apart from it signifying in this case just what it sounds like, is a navigational strategy to recalculate your position by estimating the direction, the drift, and the distance you’ve traveled.”

She goes on, “When my friend Mike was dying in December of 2019, I came across an Amy Hempel poem about the failure of language when faced with things like death— ”

At the end, I wanted to comfort him. 
But what I said was, Sing to it. The 
Arab proverb: When danger approaches, sing to it.

Fenner shares, “I’m left with love as the only defense—loving people and letting them know they were loved by you. ‘Dead Reckoning’ really is a reckoning during a period of seemingly endless loss and an attempt to determine a ‘way of living that is not waiting,’ as I recently heard poet Jorie Graham say in an interview. Singing is my way of loving, loving even danger. Here I sing to my friends, my parents; their ghosts; and to you. I hope you can hear it.”

Presently based in New York City, Fenner’s music is defined by her voice, which conjures up suggestions of Joni Mitchell. Listeners can identify the evolution of her sound and her voice on her three previous albums, beginning with Horses And Burning Cars, followed by Magnet, and 2017’s Middle Voice.

Dead Reckoning will be released on January 15 and encompasses 11 tracks, starting with “My River,” a gentle, drifting song suffused with melancholy and Fenner’s evocative vibrato.

Kate Fenner

Entry points include the sophisti-pop-infused “Transit of Venus,” akin to Joni Mitchell covering Sade – rippling with lush undulations as Fenner’s velvety voice imbues the lyrics with nuanced, vibrant flavours. While “Quiet Rider” blends hints of country, folk, and pop into a deliciously creamy tune full of psychedelic-lite touches.

A personal favourite because of Fenner’s alluring vocals, “Ghost Moon” reveals both style and substance, providing a charming, even beguiling, listening experience. Weightless washes of luminous textures float and glide as Fenner’s exquisite voice sails overhead.

With its Liz Phair-like alt-rock savours, “That Fire” juxtaposes Fenner’s deftly modulated vocals with gleaming, growling guitars, giving the tune a luscious sliding motion. The bluesy, doo-wop character of “Son of a Gun” appends the album with retro ’50s and ’60s tangs.

Dead Reckoning sees Kate Fenner employing her superb voice like a sculptor’s tool, shaping beguiling tones into haunting art.

Dead Reckoning Track Listing:

1. My River
2. Transit of Venus
3. Quiet Rider
4. Ghost Moon
5. Soul-maker
6. The Torch
7. Cautionary Tale
8. The Hawk
9. Son of a Gun
10. Received Wisdom
11. Firefly

Run Time: 53:09
Release Date: January 15, 2023
Record Label: Self-Release

Author