By Kali Kushner | Culture Editor

Karla Kane’s musical career developed while at Saint Mary’s College. (Courtesy of Aaron Rubin)

From the hills of the Bay to the halls of Cardiff, Karla Kane continues to reveal her lyrical talent and empathetic heart in her debut solo album, “King’s Daughters Home For Incurables.” Kane, who graduated from Saint Mary’s College with a degree in Archeology and Italian, was gracious enough to offer me a glimpse into her artistic life, which bloomed on this very campus.

Although she came to pursue her education, Kane ended up planting the seeds for her future musical career in the halls of Saint Mary’s College. “We used to record on a little cassette four-track machine in the dorms! Once we started playing as a full, “real” band, we recorded our albums in studios with producers, but I guess that dorm-room DIY spirit is still alive and well because I recorded this new album at home in my dining room, using just one microphone and a laptop.” Not only did Kane successfully record her newest album outside of the studio, which was a feat in itself, but she managed to do so whilst balancing her career as a newspaper editor and raising her daughter.

The album itself is both lighthearted and dreamy yet socially conscious, consisting of Kane’s youthful voice, clever lyrics, and appearances from Kane’s bandmates from Corner Laughers. “King’s Daughters Home For Incurables” inspires visions of cross country road trips, long summer days, and reading in the shade of an oak tree. In the opening titular track, Kane reminisces over her time studying at the University of Wales and the English folk music that inspired this new album. While most American folk singers tend to incorporate melancholic vocals with acoustics, Kane sustains an optimistic lens throughout the album. In a few tracks, Kane integrates audio clips of birds chirping, which not only reflects her admiration of the natural world, but serves as an appropriate metaphor for my overall reaction to her work. Just as bird songs signify the approaching dawn, I find myself refreshed and hopeful as each track flows through me.

In one of the more controversial lyrics that stuck with me, Kane confronts the current political climate in the United States, singing: “A terrible troll, lived up in his tower, surrounded by minions who wouldn’t say no and it was our role to take back the power, to turn our opinions up high as they go.” Rather than ranting about the ills of society, Kane promotes the importance of social activism and the impact community can have.

More and more often we witness artists using their platforms to call attention to socio-political issues. When asked about the role artists play in promoting social activism, Kane replied, “I don’t think art always has to promote a social or political agenda—art for art’s sake has plenty of value on its own and there’s value in escapism and fantasy. But it certainly can be worthwhile for artists to include a message in their work. Songs, visual art, theater, films—all these media can help not just entertain, but inform, enlighten, and call to action. It’s a particularly dark and strange time in the U.S. right now, so I think it’s natural that that’s going to show up in a lot of art.”

Karla Kane undoubtedly is a talented and inspirational artist who I feel lucky to have encountered. Kane doesn’t confine herself to the oppressive structures in society, nor does she limit her art to vague categories of genre, proving that it’s possible to pursue your passions.

If there is anything I can leave the reader with, it’s the knowledge that you can do what you love and that you should keep an open mind when it comes to your own potential. The world is full of beautiful, artistic people, and you are one of them.

To find out more about Karla Kane and her music, visit karlakane.com and look forward to “King’s Daughters Home For Incurables,” coming out on Oct. 6, 2017.

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