On my thirty-second birthday, as we celebrated my life and creative efforts of others through an evening of criticism in the Williamsburg part of Brooklyn, Canadian singer-songwriter Kate Fenner released an eleven-track album entitled, ‘Middle Voice’.
The alluring eleven-track album ‘Middle Voice’ is a collection of songs about love, divorce, marriage, and growing up. I think the best songs on the album are ‘Beatrice’ and ‘A Marriage’, because of how they make me feel. I could picture myself seeing her play at a local bookstore with people sitting around her on the floor. In between each song, she sips on herbal tea from a cup and tells us a story about what inspired the personal lines.
Next, we cheer her on, as we can see the liberation in her eyes. She sighs. Then, she begins to strum her guitar, picking up where she left off. It isn’t popular to sing how New York City-based artist Kate Fenner sings, today, but it is calming to be able to hear the pristine lyrics of a song. Overall, there is less stress involved when deciding if you like something or not.
‘I recorded the bed tracks for this album after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and slated for surgery to remove it. This diagnoses, itself, came after a fallow period of illness and getting sober,’ Kate Fenner said about ‘Middle Voice’, her third solo album.
She wanted to capture her voice, so she started to write the lyrics. Her old friend and longtime collaborator, Tony Scherr, ‘stepped up immediately’ to help her with the process. They recorded the beds, in less than three weeks, in three-hour sessions while her son was in school. We recorded all the beds in less than three weeks in short 3-hr sessions while my son was in school. Later, overdubs and a couple of songs were added once her voice healed.
What is a middle voice? As explained by the recording artist, it describes ‘a subject that is both an actor and an acted-upon, both agent and patient, conjuring up a voice both in the middle of its life, and in-between feelings about many things like love, purpose, illness and death. A kind of sweet and earned ambivalence towards life and art.’