Drawing deeply from the roots of American folk storytelling tradition and in an utterly haunting voice somewhere between molasses, bittersweet chocolate and an oak-aged whiskey, combined with her intricately poetic lyrics and timeless melodies, Portland, Oregon-based, (former long-time North Carolina-resident) Jane Kramer delivers her raw, honest and compelling debut solo release, Break & Bloom.
In love with words and with an arsenal of fraying notebooks full of poetry and melodies in her head, Jane was deeply influenced by the unforgettable voices and stylistic grace of such artists as Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Patty Griffin, Natalie Merchant, Guy Clark and Emmylou Harris. Born in Valley Forge, PA in 1980 to a musically inclined family, she credits her grandfather, David Madison, a violin prodigy and first chair violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra for 51 years as a driving force in her musical upbringing and her father, David Kramer, a classically trained guitarist, always found time to practice guitar late at night after gruelling days at the office, giving Jane her first guitar at age seventeen. Jane remarks that his reverence for and dedication to the music he plays continues to be deeply inspiring to her. While he may not be hitting the road with her any time soon, Jane insists, “He’s my favorite accompanist. We do a stellar version of Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Guilty’ that I aim to record with him someday.”
While on the road, Jane’s angelic voice and memorable songs garnered her attention from such names as Melissa Ferrick and acclaimed songwriter and performer, Malcolm Holcombe. At just nineteen years old, Jane was playing her guitar and singing on a street corner in Provincetown Cape Cod when a captivated Melissa Ferrick approached, sat and listened to four or five songs and then asked Jane personally to open for her in a Philadelphia performance. Several years later, Malcolm Holcombe overheard Jane rehearsing a cover of his song ‘A Far Cry from Here’ backstage at a benefit concert they were both playing, and asked if she’d like to sing it with him during his set that day. Jane identifies this as a defining moment in her career, saying, “He is one of my songwriting heroes, and I hadn’t even meant for him to hear me - was just messing around. What an honor. Then we got on stage and he didn’t sing a lick - just accompanied me with his killer finger-style guitar and I sang the whole tune. It was surreal and beautiful.”
Jane was also, a founding member, songwriter and anchor voice of the Asheville, NC-based Appalachian folk outfit The Barrel House Mamas, from 2003 until their break-up in 2009, and her first full-length solo album puts Jane in a new and well-deserved spotlight as a vocalist, writer and producer.
Break & Bloom comprises eleven pin-tight arrangements of stylistically diverse tracks - ten original songs and a rollicking reinvention of the old gospel tune ‘How Far Am I From Canaan’, alongside the sultry, summer night longing of classic country-influenced ‘Georgia’ (accented with David Jacobs-Strain’s dead-on slide guitar), as well as the spectacularly heartbreaking piano ballad ‘The Devil Don’t Want’. The redemptive, bittersweet and rebellious post-breakup anthem ‘Nobody’s Woman Tonight’ will have everyone who has ever lost a love singing its refrain. In ‘Mourning Dove’, Jane reflects on a close friend’s suicide; a raw and moving re-interpretation of a song she had written for him years ago.
Break & Bloom coalesces into a profound expression of vulnerability, self-honesty, loss and a person's capacity for healing. If you have ever lost someone or something irreplaceable to you, drank bourbon alone on a southern porch at night, taken courage from your beat-up boots or loved an Appalachian mountain, Break & Bloom is your soundtrack.
“The first thing that strikes with ‘Break & Bloom’ is a voice that compels you to listen to the depth of feeling that pervades her songs. Then there are the piercing lyrics that pour through the human condition relating stories, incidents and experiences that touch us. Add melodies that inspire and linger as they slide through your ears to fix themselves in your mind and you have an album that will stay with you for some time to come.” FolkWords
“Eloquent honesty and a rare ability to conjure timeless melodies out of the ether are the hallmarks of Jane's endearing approach to music-making, with the beguiling opener, 'Georgia' and 'Mourning Dove' capturing the Oregon based artist at her brilliant best.” Messenger Newspapers