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Dayna Kurtz
 
 
 
     
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Dayna Kurtz
"Another Black Feather"
Irish Release April 7th on Munich Records
www.daynakurtz.com

"...she could be Leonard Cohen's spiritual daughter" . . .Billboard
"Highly recommended" . . Q
"An uncompromising force". . . Uncut

After two years of touring behind the critically acclaimed “Beautiful Yesterday”, Dayna has had very little time alone to write in recent months. “I was a little worried about writing this record...I’m not terribly prolific to begin with, and I really didn’t get much of a break from touring in the past year” she observes. But it was not just the endless cycle of touring / writing / recording that was catching up with her: “I also knew that part of it was that my life had changed quite a bit in the last few years. I had gotten married, and I just wasn’t getting the time alone picking at old wounds that I was used to back in the day. I was also pretty happy, which was worrisome. You try not to, but it’s hard not to buy into the miserable artist stereotype. I kept looking for artists I loved that at least seemed pretty settled and happy and didn’t write crap.”

The success of her last two albums led to a different sort of touring cycle. “Tours used to consist of me floating around from town to town over the course of several weeks – I had lots of downtime, spent a lot of time camping out, exploring, fishing, falling in love with one place or person or another.” Then all of a sudden her tours started filling in, with few days off, and most of her free time taken with interviews or in transit.
So in April, Dayna escaped to the desert. “I completed most of the songs for this one in a hermitage maintained by some lovely people for solitary religious introspection. I stayed in an adobe hut with dirt floors on 500 acres in the Sonoran desert in Arizona.

There was no electricity, nobody around for miles, a cot, a table, chair and pitcher. 2 weeks. I brought no distractions – no novels, only books of writing exercises and poetry. It was so quiet at night I could hear the blood beat in my ears. It was sublime, and I wrote constantly. When I wasn’t writing I’d take a walk, stop and watch a bug climbing around a desert flower for an hour.
Making the record came just as easily. “We recorded the basics live to tape, 2 or 3 takes per song, and picked the best of 'em right then. I love analog.

When you record digitally it just requires too much imagination to hear how good it might sound when you’ve added overdubbed, mixed and mastered. When you record to tape, it sounds like a record right out of the gate. It helped us make decisions faster – we just knew when it was good or great or bad, not based on the perfection of performance, but based on overall vibe. It was great. It’s the only way to go – especially now that we have pro-tools to dump our chosen tracks into when done. It was the best of worlds, the warmth and immediacy of analog with the final flexibility of pro-tools. I’m never recording any other way again.”


 
 
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"One of the things that I seem to encounter constantly is that I don't really quite fit anywhere," observes Dayna Kurtz. "But I like that, because I can define myself without the weight of other people's expectations. I'm not of the jazz, blues, folk, R&B, rock or pop worlds enough to belong to any one of them, but all of those things are in there."

Indeed, the much buzzed-about singer/songwriter/guitarist's remarkable new album Beautiful Yesterday may well be too musically eclectic and emotionally complex to slot into any simplistic music-biz marketing niche. But therein lies much of the dozen-song collection's appeal, with Kurtz channeling a deep affinity for these different genres into an unmistakably personal vision.

The lack of a ready stylistic tag hasn't stopped the resourceful New Jersey native from building a substantial audience—and a compelling body of recorded work—on her own terms. She maintains an enthusiastic international fan base that's embraced the poetic passion of her songwriting and the communicative power of her voice, an unforgettable, distinctly husky instrument that's capable of immense depth and sensitivity. She has also inspired reams of rapturous acclaim from critics and won admiration from her musical peers.

Kismet Records has issued a trio of full-length Kurtz CDs: the intimate live performance souvenir Otherwise Luscious Life, the impressively accomplished studio effort Postcards from Downtown, and the new Beautiful Yesterday. Where her first two releases showcased Kurtz's own songwriting skills, Beautiful Yesterday emphasizes her equally riveting interpretive abilities. In addition to three originals—"Music Box," "Love, Where Did You Go" and the haunting title number—she applies her voice to a diverse assortment of material drawn from Billie Holiday, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sam Cooke, Eszter Balint and others. Beautiful Yesterday also features guest appearances from Kurtz admirers Norah Jones, who volunteered to duet with Dayna on a warm, subdued take on Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad," and the genre-busting classical quartet Ethel, who compliment Kurtz’s reading of “Parlez-Moi D’Amour,” a tune from the soundtrack to the 1991 film ‘Henry and June,’ and according to Kurtz “one of the loveliest melodies ever written.”

Dayna Kurtz began performing her original compositions in public as a teenager, and subsequently spent the better part of a decade touring solo across the back roads of America, selling CDs out of her trunk and mesmerizing club and festival crowds with her riveting live performances. Along the way, she opened shows for the likes of Richie Havens (who became a fan and lent guest vocals to Postcards from Downtown), Richard Thompson, B.B. King, Dr. John, Olu Dara, Chris Whitley, Richard Buckner, Kelly Joe Phelps, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and won a 1997 nod as Female Songwriter of the Year by the National Academy of Songwriters.

The fan response and critical attention generated by Kurtz's grass-roots touring efforts inevitably drew interest from the mainstream music industry. Despite its lowkey indie release, Postcards From Downtown quickly found an enthusiastic audience, winning Kurtz high-profile guest spots on such radio shows as World Cafe, Mountain Stage and NPR's Morning Edition. The album also put her on the map in Europe and was particularly well-received in Holland, where it received substantial airplay and became a Top 20 seller, culminating in sold-out headlining shows at Amsterdam's fabled Paradiso (one of which recorded for posterity as Kurtz's first DVD, Postcards from Amsterdam).

But Dayna Kurtz has worked too hard to allow such adulation to go to her head. "Every step I've taken has felt really organic, and like they've been made at the right time," she states, adding, "The records I've made feel like honest expressions of where I'm at musically, and the making of them has been joyful and interesting.”

 
 
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