The Clash's “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is to the Kate Hinote Trio's “Quick,” where she sorrowfully suggests “You could go, that's what I'd do.”
The track is one of Hinote's favorites from Near, her debut record with Matthew Parmenter on violin, and guitarist David Johnson.
“That one is the most vulnerable to me in the arrangement and the lyrics, and the most unlike my normal singing style,” Hinote says. “There is a thrill each time we perform that one because the three of us really have to be breathing together and connected, and when we land it… it just feels nice.”
The record, out Friday, March 19, is a year in the making, as the Trio began performing in fall of 2019 and, upon discovering their special moody and broody brand of chamber folk (that in the case of Near, has hints of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and early PJ Harvey) they began piecing their sound — and what would become their first record — together.
But it wasn't just a collaboration between players. Hinote included songs she had co-written with her other project, Blueflowers, as well as songs she borrowed from local performers, Matthew Smith, Emily Rose, Anthony Retka, Duende, and Jaye Allen Thomas, Don Duprie, and Alison Lewis.
Known for her membership in several bands, many of which she fronts because, well, Hinote's genre-bending voice soars, swells, and shrinks with a crispness and strikes the balance between joyful and sorrow-filled, Hinote wanted this project to be about capturing a sound and a mood as a whole.
“I knew I wanted to record an album not long after Matthew started playing with us, and then it just became picking songs and developing them until we had enough,” she says. “I was selective with the songs in that I did want them to fit the mood and be a good vocal for me, but lyrically I wasn’t following a particular theme.”
The result? An eclectic collection that begs for closeness and certainty at a time where both seem far from reach.
Though the record, as Hinote says, wasn't about maintaining a cohesive theme lyrically, much can be said for the space from which “Where You Dream Now” was written. Written by Hinote and Parmenter, the song's evolution played into its content and required an even deeper sense of isolation to push through the process.
“I was in a cabin up north and sat down and forced myself to write the first two lines and I wouldn’t let myself leave that room until I’d gotten a verse and a chorus,” she says. “I was feeling pretty disconnected from people at the time and struggling with that and longing for connection. That came into play when writing for sure, but there is also a fantasy element of finding that longing for connection.”
Those first two emotionally laborious lines?
“I will reside in silent motion/ Windows of pain flash/ I don’t care what walls I’ve found/ The only thing I want is ground.” Before live music came to a halt, the trio was preparing for their first headlining gig at Aretha's Jazz Cafe, which was around the same time they began recording in February 2020. They wouldn't complete the record until December of last year, but it was the very making of the record that became a catalyst for being seen and heard at a time where that was very difficult to achieve.
“The collaboration process seemed natural and easy because mostly we just wanted to play and be heard, so focusing on making our album was quite welcome when we couldn’t play anymore,” she says.
Currently, Hinote is still basking in just how good her voice sounds when paired with Parmenter's violin. (She particularly loves when her voice and the violin sound like a duet) Hinote and her bandmates are eager to play live and create connections through this project.
“We love the excitement of performing and finding new ears and we want to go out and support this album and meet some new people around the mitten and elsewhere,” she says. “We plan to take time for writing new material as well and we’re hoping to find opportunities for that along the way as well.”Near is available for download on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon.
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