Review and Interview of Katie Buxton by Rose Sejean
I’ll be straight with you, sometimes I jump to conclusions.
When I first set out on an interview with a golden-haired, country artist based in Nashville my first instinct was to draw comparisons to an early Taylor Swift (for the record, who wouldn’t want to be compared to Tay almighty?), but after hearing the first few seconds of her new single ‘You Flew’, I realised you should never assume anything -This artist well and truly has her own voice and you might want to have a listen…
Her name is Katie Buxton, a unique gem emerging on the U.S country-music radar, and she’s released a stunner of a folk-ballad that will wrap a warm blanket around your aching heart.
You just know when you hear it. Buxton was born to make music, and the Philadelphia-native is no stranger to praise having accumulated a string of accolades in her short career. Her most recent was being selected as a finalist in the 2016 American Songwriting Awards for her song ‘Painted Hearts’ , an impressive feat for someone who only decided to pursue music professionally about a year ago.
“‘You Flew’ is about caring deeply for someone who is not ready to love or be loved and runs out of fear, and focuses especially on the process of learning to let go” says Buxton. It reflects on the painful realisation that in love, giving everything is not always enough to keep someone.
What hits you most profoundly are the lyrics; poetic, evocative and steeped in heartfelt honesty:
And I chased until my feet turned blue
But what is love if you have to beg for it?
Nearly killed me just waiting for it
So I watched as you flew”
The track is built on a succession of simple acoustic guitar chord progressions, it’s this simplicity that makes the feel of the song reassuringly familiar. As the track builds, the subtle use of reverb on electric guitar creates a sense of expanse, while in the same breath, Buxton’s vocals manage to maintain a whisper-like intimacy. Sal Oliveri (mixing) and Luke Gilfeather (mastering) add understated but vital elements to the final product, the listener goes from a confined internal focus at the beginning of the track to gliding above a vast canyon by the end of it.
On the topic of vocals; Buxton has been bestowed the voice of a storyteller. Her slightly rustic tone is rich and expressive, and her technique is pleasing on the ears as she moves from note to note with control and ease.
‘You Flew’ was released on the back of her 2015 debut EP ‘From Songbirds’, which features original indie-folk treasures such as ‘Happens Like This’ and the aforementioned ‘Painted Hearts’.
If you ever find that you’re feeling blue, just put Buxton on repeat a few times and I guarantee your heart will be galloping again in no time.
You started singing and playing guitar at a young age, when did you know that it was what you wanted to do as a career? Was there a defining moment?
I always sort of knew that I would grow up to do something with music in some way, but I didn’t know in what capacity until a little over a year ago believe it or not. I was so unsure about being an artist for so long, I think mostly because of fear and believing that it was unrealistic and impossible. But last summer I was in Ireland and played a song in a writer’s round that I wasn’t too confident about at the time, and the response I got from people was overwhelming. I was genuinely surprised. I really think it was at that moment I realized being an artist is what I want to do more than anything, and it was a moment where everything just became so clear.
Thank goodness for the writer’s round! Tell us about writing ‘You Flew’?
I wrote ‘You Flew’ this past January on a snow day actually – all my classes were cancelled because of a huge snowfall in Nashville and I was stuck in my house with nothing to do. I started playing and the song just started coming out, almost effortlessly. It’s cool because I did an acoustic session in the snow that you can find on YouTube which was filmed two days after I wrote it – hence the snow on the ground.
I was just about to say how appropriate the Single Session: Snow Day recording was in that case! Do you find songwriting a cathartic way to sort through difficult experiences?
Oh definitely – writing that song and playing it so many times has helped me heal so much, and in turn learn from the experience. Most recently I wrote a song that also seemed to come out of nowhere – it’s about a painful childhood experience I had. I got through the first verse and just started crying and surprised myself because I didn’t realize I was still harboring emotions from the experience. Songwriting can be such a healing thing.
Often in interviews when you describe your songwriting process, you talk about how songs just ‘flow out of you’ – What’s your opinion on the somewhat ‘out there’ notion that music already exists in an abstract form before it’s written, and that songwriters are like channels who have the ability to hear and communicate it to people?
I’d definitely agree with that notion, but at the same time, I don’t believe it makes the talent of a songwriter any less or discredits the songwriter in any way to say they are channels – I think in order to create really magical things you have to be open to the ideas that flow through you. I also think that all innovations and ideas in general come from somewhere else, but what makes a piece of art special is the fact that that one idea, whatever it may be, came to that artist at the exact time it was supposed to, so it was quite literally asking to be expressed through them and only them… I feel like I’m rambling!
Do you have any advice for our Ramona readers?
I feel like I say this a lot, but I always think it’s important to remind people to stay honest in all they do and create. I believe it’s our job as unique and individual human beings to embrace and share exactly who we are – the world obviously needs you and what you can bring to it, otherwise you wouldn’t be here!
Buy “You Flew” on iTunes
Keep up to date at www.katiebuxton.com