Although Kendl Winter’s fourth solo album “Apple Core” is marketed as country, do not be so quick to label this smooth-voiced artist. Born in Arkansas and based in Olympia, the folksy singer combines a range of powerful lyrics with often-upbeat melodies and a range of layered harmonies over banjo, guitar and piano.
Her 11-track album “Apple Core” features Austin Cooper on drums, Geph Shannon on trumpet and synthesizer, Pam Margon on the fiddle, Joe Capoccia on bass and Winter on banjo, guitar, piano and vocals. Winter’s solo performances feature a loop pedal, allowing her to create rich layers of sound on her own.
All songs were written and recorded by Winter in 2009 on a boat on the Puget Sound, as well as a house on the west side of Olympia. The album was released this past winter.
In her sweet and sometimes sad songs, Winter’s vivid lyrics range from honest love songs to vivid and powerful stories of grief.
“Dance Gently on my Grave” has a rich melody with equally poetic lyrics. “Forget all I said, I only needed to be heard/ the figures in my speech were slurred/ I am hungry and I eat my words.”
One of her more powerful songs, “Dr. Tiller,” addresses the 2009 shooting of an abortion doctor in Wichita, Kan. At the time, George Tiller was one of the few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, and was shot to death in church on a Sunday. The heartwrenching song serves as somewhat of a memorial to victim.
“They murdered the doctor, he’d been shot before in ’93/ his clinic bombed in ‘85/ for decades he’d been working for the rights of humanity/ but he didn’t take his body guard to church with him on Sunday/ what is going on? What is your bruise?/ you do not like my right to choose?”
The song tackles the controversial topic with an appropriate melancholy sound that picks up slightly in the following song, “Cotton Skies.” The song lightens up the mood, providing a fun sound with lighter lyrics.
“Laugh at the moon, under the stars/ under a moon that’s only ours/ underneath those cotton skies/ we will watch those clouds roll by light like fire.”
The album ends on a high note with “Bluebird on the Mountainside,” a light song with impressive banjo instrumentals.
The future looks bright for this young local artist, and it would be well worthwhile to keep her on your radar as she continues to grow musically.