Another great artist from the Broken Jukebox Media, Adam Dawson sure knows how to pick them.
In April 2018, Kramer returned to the studio to record her third full-length album. Valley of the Bones is a triumphant collection of original songs that illustrate and explore the expression human of love in all its various forms.
Tracked mostly live (including the vocal performances,) at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, N.C., Kramer teamed up with her frequent collaborators: Free Planet Radio musicians River Guerguerian, Chris Rosser and two-time Grammy Award winner Eliot Wadopian; as well as Billy Cardine. The album also includes performances by Nicky Sanders of The Steep Canyon Rangers on violin and Asheville Symphony Orchestra musician Franklin Keel on cello.
The collection of 10 original songs was engineered, mixed and produced by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios and co-produced by Kramer and Chris Rosser. Kramer says of bringing the earliest, tentative versions of her songs to Johnson and Rosser for arrangement help and production ideas, “I have never trusted two people more with my art. In the past, I have seldom let people hear my songs until I felt that they were polished, but as my musical relationship with and respect for [Johnson] and [Rosser] have deepened, it felt important to me to to involve them from the beginning”.
“I know that the songs and the record as a whole are much stronger for it, and their gentle but firmly constructive approach has made me a better artist. I’ve been looking for such allies and mentors for a long time,” she adds.
While most of the aforementioned musicians accompanied Kramer on her acclaimed 2016 release Carnival of Hopes, listeners will hear a distinct difference in the band’s chemistry, cohesion and almost electric intuition with one another on Valley of the Bones.
“Simply put, it’s because we’ve been playing together a lot over the past three years since I’ve moved back home to Asheville,” she says. “We’ve gotten to know each other personally, had a little time on the road together, sold out some shows in theaters together and have built an incredible mutual respect. We had genuine fun in the studio. I think all of that translates and comes through on the record.”
photo credit : Rose Kaz
Valley of the Bones’ songs tackle a breadth of subject matter, ranging from marriage to miscarriage. Spirituality and self-acceptance are expressed with poetic grace, vulnerability and unapologetically honest grit. Kramer’s endearing, self-effacing humor is also on full display. This warm, easy storytelling is paired with rich, nuanced arrangements that aren’t afraid to be simple when called for, and are punctuated with the unmistakably bittersweet southern wail of Billy Cardine’s dobro.
Standout tracks include the gutsy and reflective “Hymn” (which was a “homework assignment” from Mary Gauthier, Kramer’s musical mentor) the undeniably smart and sassy “Waffle House Song”, and the profoundly poetic and transcendent title track “Valley of the Bones”. This song was dubbed a “masterpiece” by Lydia Hutchinson of Performing Songwriter Magazine. Also noteworthy are the quirky and hilarious country zinger “I’ll See Your Crazy and Raise You Mine” and the sweet, earnest “Singin’s Enough” which speaks candidly of the struggles of a touring musician.
All of the songs on Valley of the Bones show Kramer arriving confidently and comfortably at home inside as both a woman and a masterful songwriter after over twenty years of honing her craft.
‘”Waffle House Song” proves that while Kramer may be eighteen years into her journey, she is solidly serving up a sizzlin’ hot and delicious portion of nourishment for one’s soul…..kinda like that yellow signed place she sings about.”
– Tara Joan, The Daily Country
“I have watched Jane Kramer work diligently, patiently and persistently on her songwriting over many years, refining her natural ability with words to the level of songwriting mastery. She has composed a new collection of songs that beautifully serve the bold, confident intensity of her voice, and I could not be more excited about it. Bravo!”
– Mary Gauthier
“Jane Kramer is a folk singer, I dig that”
– Malcolm Holcombe
“For a singer-songwriter, Kramer has presented the holy trinity of brilliant and affecting songwriting, divine vocals that crackle with emotion and high class backing and accompaniment. That the result is a beautifully produced album that is a joy to listen to perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise”
-Pete Churchill, Americana UK
“The North Carolinian’s third album, Valley Of The Bones, is packed with memorable acoustic-led tunes, an expressive and attractive voice with autobiographical stories that leave you staggered at the breadth of topics and profundity.”
– Tony Ives, Americana Music Show
“Her strong pretty voice and penchant for vivid lyrics are the deepest talents on display here, though the crack band (featuring Nicky Sanders of Steep Canyon Rangers on fiddle) is surely deserving of praise”
– Joseph Neff, The Vinyl District
“A lovely down home voice, a sharp pen and great taste in musical pals make this organic/back porch set a high water mark for Americana that’ll just drive friends of owners of this album crazy since said owners won’t stop playing it.”
-Chris Spector, Midwest Record
“Kramer is a natural and you’ll find that in her music, as the songs take you down quiet, gravel country roads, beautiful forests of peaceful mountain retreats, and the sometimes lonely nights of motels and truck stops on the road of life.”
– Sheryl Craig, Nashville Music Guide
“these songs are kick-up your heels good. These are old timey string band tunes with a modern feel, songs that will appeal to traditionalists and Americana fans alike. Turn it up!”
-Viola Krause, Making a Scene
“She appears to be more comfortable and confident in herself and her songs than ever.”
– Billy Phoenix, Steemit
Recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, NC
Engineered and Mixed by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios
Produced by Adam Johnson
Co-Producers: Chris Rosser and Jane Kramer
Additional Engineering, String Arrangement for “Wedding Vows” and Mastering by Chris Rosser of Hollow Reed Arts in Asheville, NC.
All Songs (Words and Music) by Jane Kramer (ASCAP, Famous Brown Boots Music.)
The Band Is:
Jane Kramer – Lead Vocals on All Songs
Chris Rosser – Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Keyboards, Harmonium, Octave Mandolin, Harmony Vocals
Eliot Wadopian – Upright Bass
River Guerguerian – Drumset and Percussion
Billy Cardine – Dobro
Allison Hall – Harmony Vocals
Nicky Sanders (of The Steep Canyon Rangers) Fiddle
Franklin Keel – Cello