Chris Pureka + Kris Delmhorst
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It’s rare for an artist to bridge the divide between critical acclaim and dedicated fan engagement. Chris Pureka is a Portland-based singer-songwriter whose body of work has resonated deeply with these seemingly disparate milieus. Her bold vulnerability in processing the intimacies of her life in song has long appealed to those listeners who crave authenticity. Now, five years coming, she shares with us another powerful entry in her life’s work, her sixth release, the aptly titled, Back in the Ring.
Chris’s elegant emotionality as a vocalist, and her flair and immediacy as a lyricist have garnered her favorable comparisons to Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, and Patty Griffin. She’s earned accolades from such distinguished taste-making outlets as The New York Times, Paste, Magnet, Billboard.com, and The AllMusic Guide. She’s shared the stage with such diverse and esteemed artists as Dar Williams, The Lumineers, The Cowboy Junkies, Gregory Alan Isakov, Martin Sexton, and Ani DiFranco. Along the way, Chris has remained fiercely independent, selling nearly 50,000 albums through her own label, Sad Rabbit Records.
Chris’s journey in music mirrors her path toward self-discovery. At 16, writing songs became a way of journaling. “I was shy and introverted, and songwriting was a very personal process. I never had any intention of performing,” she shares. Post high school, she went on to complete a biology degree at Wesleyan University, and afterwards, worked in a microbiology research lab at Smith College. Meanwhile, she established a music career parallel to her biology work through touring and issuing a clutch of well-received indie releases. In 2006, when Chris found herself turning down too many opportunities as a musician, she shifted her priorities to become a full-time artist.
Her latest album, Back in the Ring, is Chris’s first studio full length since 2010’s critically acclaimed How I Learned to See in the Dark. “I’m not interested in releasing songs I can’t get behind or records I don’t love,” she says of the five-year span between albums. The title of her latest playfully suggests something of an artistic comeback, but it also references the album’s themes of relationship conflict and making the decision to fight back against dark inner demons.
“My music is the outward expression of the work I’m doing internally. What I do comes from my experiences, and I strive to express these experiences authentically. Speaking my truth, and being myself, is the way that I connect with people,” Chris confides. Her rise as an esteemed artist with captivating emotional integrity has been organic and always on her own terms. For someone who never had an intention of being a professional musician, it’s been a life of far-reaching changes and unexpected rewards.
Kris Delmhorst has spent the last two decades forging a songwriting career notable for a spirit of exploration and collaboration. Her most recent album, THE WILD (Oct 2017), was co-produced with her husband, fellow songwriter Jeffrey Foucault, and features a band drawn from players they share long history with as bandmates and friends. The album merges Delmhorst’s sophisticated melodies and hauntingly open voice with Foucault’s lean aesthetic to deliver a darkly hopeful, fiercely wise new collection of songs.
Prior to THE WILD, Delmhorst released six full-length records on the respected indie label Signature Sounds, as well as a panoply of EPs, side projects, and collaborations. A wide-ranging, eclectic artist, her recordings have included intimate acoustic sets, rock band renderings, home-recording landscapes collaged from found and unexpected sounds, and works of classic poetry refigured and set to music – not to mention an all-acoustic collection of covers of songs by new-wave masters The Cars. Delmhorst is a constant collaborator and has contributed vocals, cello, and fiddle to the work of fellow songwriters Anais Mitchell, Lori McKenna, Chris Smither, Mary Gauthier, Erin McKeown, Winterpills, Peter Mulvey, Gregory Alan Isakov, Session Americana, and many more.
Delmhorst lives in western Massachusetts with Foucault and their young daughter.
“Exceptional lyrics and captivating voice” -Utne Reader
“Literate, allusive…a marvelous, tense groove that holds throughout, no matter the sonic particulars of individual songs.” – The Boston Globe
“Austerely beautiful tunes” – Minneapolis City Pages
“Delmhorst’s writing is remarkably vivid” – Twangville
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