by Brian J. Sulpizio / Health&Beauty
For ten years I’ve been telling people that the music Kendra makes is my favorite music. I don’t think I’ve been lying to myself, and after getting over some initial shock at why the world seemed to disagree with me I resigned to being lonely in my opinion. I once played her song “White Balloons” for a nice singer-songwriter man who was considering making a record with me and he immediately vomited and left and I never saw him again.
But Kendra has lived her life admirably (I’m sure stories will begin to emerge as more of us catch on to what she is doing) and has continued to make music, and when a “true head” has given it a spin they’ve been enthralled. While still verymuch hers, it gets better and better. This is what happens when artists keep working and refuse to compromise. I’ve been fortunate to participate in some way in most of the music she has made over the last decade and it’s always thrilling to me when I get to hear and work on new Kendra music. Here supported by her friends Victoria Robison, Sam Cook, Taralie Peterson (Spires that in the Sunset Rise), Jayve Montgomery (El Is a Sound of Joy), and Peter McLaughlin (Lina Tullgren), she’s made her best record yet.
Some time ago I noticed that most of the music I liked could be described as “damaged.” It could be just “damaged” or it could be a damaged form like “damaged blues,” “damaged country,” etc. The common thread is a sense that the artist has recognized that something has happened to them that has not killed them but has made them somehow weaker. There is a congruence of content and execution that rejects perfection, not only in terms of assessment of the problem but in the approach to its solution and beyond that even the targeting of that possibly flawed solution to that possibly inaccurately-identified problem. The artist does not “harden their heart” but seeks a path back to trust and softness.
It is enriching to experience music like this as it reminds us that the relentlessly recommended pursuit of “positive vibes” is a strenuous activity from which one requires a rest. We might realize that the search for human connection is still worth it, though something in us fears it and regards it as ultimately less fulfilling than we’ve been told. We know that striving for comfort can leave us less comfortable than just forgetting about comfort. These are personal decisions and there is no right or wrong. We are one with the universe, regardless.
I think there’s a tradition here, including (off the dome) Sonny Sharrock, Nina Simone, Steve Lacy, The Grifters, Captain Beefheart, Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, Royal Trucks, Townes van Zandt, Laura Nyro, JJ Cale, Les Rallizes Denudes, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Ornette Coleman, Bird Names, Archie Shepp, that kind of stuff. Kendra fits nicely in this pantheon. She has a strange fascination with Tool that is noticeable in her music for the first time on Intuition and I’m sure she has her reasons. Once she shared with me a bottle of Maynard’s red wine that she had waited for hours to have him sign, and that was a very nice experience.