Reality Check with KT: The Perfect Children; This Time it’s Personal
I love interviewing other musicians for CincyMusic.com. I love talking with them about their songwriting, influences, how the heck they came up with their band name and listening to their music and trying to somehow create an apt description. But, from time to time, an act is ready to deliver an album, and I want to write about it, honestly, because it is personal.
Such is the case with the debut album, Get Me Mine, by The Perfect Children. The songs were penned by front woman, Kristen Kreft, and they are the results of the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes. Any songwriter will tell you they write their most honest and arguably, best, stuff on the tail end of a trainwreck. Such is the case with the brutal and soulful tunes on Get Me Mine. I remember a few fall seasons ago being at Kristen’s former home in Northside. We both were struggling to find the voice for our songwriting. We got together a few times to try out tunes and commiserate, with her beautiful little daughter right there with us. I have a hilarious recording of a song I had written, we were sousing out, with baby Bella screaming (literally) in the background (on mommy’s lap) as Kristen tried to strike that impossible balance many mother’s find themselves negotiating, between holding on to who you ARE as a person and meeting the needs of your baby. Apparently Bella liked the hook, because her crying would temporarily cease as we ebbed into the chorus, only to resume when the verse returned. It was one of the funniest things ever and we dubbed our short lived writing sessions, “The Angry Woman Writing Sessions”. The difficult and beautiful reality that a child brings into our lives was so perfectly captured during that time. It underlies many of the songs on the new album. It’s suddenly not a matter of eek it out for yourself, it’s about the realities of providing. It’s about loss and gain and love with all of its sweet and bitter.
Kristen and I spoke at her new home recently, with Miss Bella, underfoot (no crying this time.) Kristen reflected about her songs; “The songs definitely came from loss. What I was going through I kept inside. I didn’t showcase what was happening, I just held it in and towards the end it became toxic.” The first two songs written under the Perfect Children moniker were actually during a time that she was untangling from a broken relationship, trying to do anything to just move forward. She kind of threw her hands up and turned over anything she could to just get it over. Her priority was only her daughter. Kristen’s songs reflect the realness and boiled down to what really matters mood. Simple, honest and guttural-out of the need to get her feelings out.
The band mates Kristen has found in The Perfect Children, give just the right backdrop to the poignant songs. The vocals are soulful with Beth Harris and Nicole Potter-Borngrebe, behind Kristen’s lead. Kristen mentioned how much the friendship and connection with Beth and Nicole gives her both personally and musically. The three all come from Music Theater backgrounds and they give amazing energy and emotion to the songs. Live they literally knock you on your ass! It’s a truly special combination. Adam Shelton’s drumming is very textural and I love the warm and echoey (is that a word?) quality to his kit on the recording. Victor Strunk has joined on bass, providing tasteful low-end. The album was recorded and produced by Brian Olive at his Diamond Studios in North side. Olive adds saxophone to “Come On”, as well as performances by guest musicians Molly Sullivan on vocals and Andrew Higley on piano and organ. The album itself is garage meets soul and gospel in flavor. It’s a barn burner from the kick off track, “Intend To Do” with the energy sustaining to the close. There were a few spots in the album where the first few chords make you picture Kristen coming onto the screen with a torch in hand ready to burn some shit down. There’s an eerie vibe to much of the album. There’s also a feeling of having hit the wall and pushing back. There are screams and vocal crescendos and Kristen’s guitar banging out rhythms with a fever pitch. This album is rich and passionate.
Kristen noted that the songs have evolved a bit since first written, in that initially her delivery was almost punk to just be able to get the words and all the things she was feeling out. Now the singing is more controlled and has taken on this gospel swagger, where you can stay in touch with that feeling but deliver it in a way that may make it more relatable for the listener. And it is relatable, for anyone that has been run through the ringer, for anyone that has loved and lost, for anyone that has worried where the next answer is coming from, for anyone who has said, “What have I done?”. It is terribly personal and raw and real and moving. A triumph to be sure. Congratulations my fierce and beautiful friend!
CD Release, August 22 at The Northside Tavern
with Brain Olive Band and DJ Harvination
8/31 Rockwood Labor Day Fireworks Celebration
with DAAP Girls and Grotesque Brooms