Thursday, March 12, 2015

Karen E. Reynolds - Paper Castles

The release for "Paper Castles" says this from CDBaby:

"Another collection of of original songs by Award winning Singer Songwriter, Karen E. Reynolds, all delivered in her tender yet powerful voice and containing her signature style of 'Americana Heart & Southern Soul'."

Karen does many things outside of writing, recording and singing great music.  She has a radio show called Writer's Block Online.  She runs a consulting business, helping artists and writers find their songwriting voice.  She runs large groups of writer forums in local venues throughout Knoxville, Tennessee and she gets involved in music and songwriting festivals all over the South along with sorts of events and client in Nashville.  I read all that happens via her Facebook page and am just floored that she has time for it all and still be able produce a stellar CD like this one.  She is a true powerhouse in music business.

What I like about Karen's writing style is her unique ability to stand out in this cookie-cutter Country industry.  Karen is a true artist, who tells stories with powerful messages from her heart and soul. There aren't too many Country singers that have unique voices out there.  Most end up sounding like someone else.  You might say she "well she  sounds like Cheryl Wheeler or Linda Ronstadt or Mary Chapin-Carpenter", but the truth is, she sounds like Karen.  There is such true happiness in her voice when she sings and a rip-roarin-gospel-soulfulness when she digs in.

So let's take this excellent album track by track.  I interpret tracks sometimes differently than the artist, but here I'm hoping that I'm getting the messages from her lyrics.

Highway 81 - Killer start to the track.  Rolling-down-the-highway style song.  The guitar takes you there instantaneously.  Song talks about heading home down highway 81 to the love of her life.  One line says it all "my destination's you..."  Love this tune.  Strong first track.  In fact folks, I could not only hear this on mainstream radio, but would listen to this song anytime.  It's in my Epic Playlist in my iPod.

Little Itty Bitty East TN Town - Nice mellow start with some great mandolin. This song is about growing up in a little itty bitty East Tennessee Town.  One of life's greatest lessons: "You have more love than you need cash." Catchy hook in the chorus and very memorable.  I find myself wanting to visit this little itty bitty Tennessee town just to see the picture that Karen paints here.

Alabama Moon - Nice upbeat love song with some awesome banjo pickin'. A song about remembering a certain time on the beach looking at a million dollar view of the Alabama Moon shining in your lover's eyes. Ah, sweet memories. Again a great catchy and memorable chorus.

She's Not Lonely - Love the opening slide guitar on the acoustic.  This is old time Country Western music.  Good story here as well.  Another great chorus and I love this little lead guitar parts with the slide between the verses.  "There's no promise of tomorrow." yet another powerful lesson here.  I love that Karen teaches the lessons of life with her music.

Cold River Poem - A short poem.  Awesome organ behind the spoken word.  Love this poem, because it supports the next track.

Down By The River - A song about cleansing your soul in the river. We all go through suffering and heartaches, but we can always cleanse ourselves in some way. Karen's cleansing hers in the river. Killer organ is continued throughout this track.  She's preaching it old school gospel style in this song.  Another strong life message.  I love the break in the end, with the background gospel singer whaling in response to Karen's soulful chorus.  I do believe that by the end of this track, her soul is getting soothed, down by the river.

Pretty From a Distance - A nice beautiful and mellow beginning to this track.  Love the lyric to this song.  "Some thing's are only pretty from a distance, but sorrow's always hiding in plain sight."  A message about how things like child abuse might be hiding in plain site, while the family looks to be normal from a distance.  At least that's the message I'm getting from this lyric.

A Love Like This - This song starts off with a catchy melody.  A great love song here.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Except that it should be on the radio.  And I don't mean some other artist performing it either.  Karen should be on the radio.  Seriously.  This song is THAT good.

God Thing - Man, I love the fiddle at the beginning of this track.  Here is one of the other top tracks of the album.  You know, I can't really say that, they're all top tracks.  This is about seeing God in everyone you meet and see.  So many things prove the existence of God.  You don't have to go to the good book to prove it, just look around you and see God in everything.

Paper Castles - Here is my favorite track on the album.  The title track. What a great guitar lead in the opening.  This is a great song about writing songs and sharing messages from the deepest depths of our souls as songwriters.  It shares how fragile we are to open ourselves up in when we write music.  We also see that when we write something that it keeps us moving forward on our path to help heal others with our music.  That's my interpretation of this powerful song.  So go build your dream with paper castles.  "It's the song that's everlasting." (a favorite lyric)

The Best Part of My Day - a nice mellow love song.  Love the djembe for the drum. This is a great song to dance slow too.  Just getting lost in each other's eyes.  Beautifully written and love the chorus here.  "The best part of my day is tonight, dancin real slow by candle light" yet another great lyric.

NOLA - How else would you start off a song about New Orleans, other than with an accordion.  It's a must!  Zydeco baby!  A love song to the city of New Orleans.  Perfectly written and beautifully sung. Yet another great chorus that is memorable.  The hooks on this album are so well written and have me thinking about them long after I've heard the song.

Little Man - You never know what God's plan is for you or someone that is born into your life.  That child might be taken due to heart conditions, ill health or cancer.  Sometimes that child passes from Sudden Infant Death.  In tough times like these we lean on our faith to help us through the loss and know that the child is back home and at peace and wrapped in God's love.  Yeah folks, this song made me cry the first time I heard it and again while I review it.  It's a true gift of a song writer, when they can tug on your heartstrings so well, that you can relate to the story that they are sharing and the tears begin to flow.  If you're not tearing up on this song, then I'm not sure what might touch your heart.

And last, but definitely not least in my book.

E S & D (Ghost Track) - Here is one of my favorite bonus tracks of all time!  The message is perfect.  I'll go no further with the meaning here because I feel that you can pick that out yourself.  I play this song when I'm feeling "the need".  It makes me laugh and smile and I know that Karen has a great sense of humor and won't take crap from anyone. This should be a Country Anthem!!  I love the sing-along at the end with the crowd.  Perfect ending to a perfect album.

In conclusion: Buy this.  I have had a lot of albums come across my desk this year that have been too good not to buy.  I'm going to be saying this a lot over the coming months, because I have so many great albums and singles to review.  Buy this, because you won't be disappointed.  Great Country/Americana.  Great messages.  Phenomenal artist and songwriter.

Buy Direct from Karen 
(also Merchandise!!!):






  1. Many thanks to the great folks over at Independent Share for this review and for playing my music. I deeply appreciate the kind words and the support.
    Anyone wishing to hear my music can drop by:
    Anyone wishing to purchase my music, is welcome to visit my online store (buy direct from the artist!) and browse my cds, my guitar logo 'Americana Heart & Southern Soul' t-shirts, koozies and other Ker Merch! Much Obliged, y'all. Here's a link to the store, or you can just Google, "KerOnlineStore"
    Thank you, Karen E. Reynolds

    1. Thanks for the added information Karen! :) I also added you ReverbNation widget to the end of the article. So folks can listen to these songs. :)