Origin: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Kim Wempe has a fight in her. It fuels her fierce passion, radiating the moment she steps on stage.
With the release of her new full-length album Painting With Tides (GroundSwell/Warner), Wempe channels that passion into a powerful collection of contemporary Canadian roots music. The album comes on the heels of her 2010 East Coast Music Award for Rising Star of the Year.
Recorded at Echo Chamber Studio in Halifax with Charles Austin (Buck 65, David Myles, Jenn Grant, Tanya Davis), the album features collaborations with Joel Plaskett, Old Man Luedecke, Thom Swift, and Geoff Hilhorst of the Deep Dark Woods.
At the heart of the songs is always Wempe’s insightful lyrics and fearless voice sharing her stories with the raw and weighty tone her fans have come to love. It’s a voice that “…lets loose a powerful force pouring out her emotions with a style that has Janis Joplin written all over it,” writes Dan MacDonald of the Cape Breton Post.
Born in a small Saskatchewan farming town, Kim lived for a period in Alberta before heading to Canada’s East Coast in 2007. After only three months in Nova Scotia, Kim realized that what once seemed a daunting and unplanned move was actually put in her path for a reason. The change of scenery and people provided the theme of Painting With Tides and nurtured a fresh view on life, home, self, and music.
It’s been an unforgettable couple of years for the young singer-songwriter. After battling in the studio for a sound she couldn’t seem to find and struggling for the finances for a full-length album, Kim released the EP Where I Need To Be in May 2009.
The EP was awarded Folk Recording of the Year at the Nova Scotia Music Awards in November 2009. Her memorable performance at the East Coast Music Awards in February 2010 turned the heads and dropped the jaws of everyone in the room including the keynote speaker, BBC’s Bob Harris. After playing a full band set, she ended with a solo performance of her heart-wrenching song, Oh Heart. The song was later featured on the Showcase television series Crash and Burn and earned a semi-finalist spot in the International Songwriting Competition.
Her path also included a stopover at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Junofest in St. John’s, NL, and a deal with the Halifax label and artist management company GroundSwell Music along with the support and national distribution of Warner Music Canada. Kim’s voice and music have echoed across Canada and she has shared stages with artists including Jill Barber, Jenn Grant, Amelia Curran, Justin Rutledge, Charlie A’Court and Coco Love Alcorn.
Her new album Painting With Tides is a modern folk album with a timeless sound. The 11 songs range from mellow folk arrangements with warm layers of acoustic guitar, mandolin and three-part harmonies to upbeat roots rock fuelled by bold electric guitar and organ.
The opening track Chameleon uses a dream as a metaphor for the world, the music business, and the way in which Wempe connects to it. This dark but upbeat roots rock tune features Joel Plaskett’s catchy guitar licks and Rosie MacKenzie’s deft fiddle weaving in between the layers with a haunting tone.
“I chose Chameleon as the first song because I wanted the album to start boldly,” says Wempe. “I think it sets up the album well — it lays out my tenacity but also my values. Chameleon is way for me to introduce myself to my audience — the foundation of me, what I do and what I stand for. The rest of the album takes you through the layers.”
The Grave, Roots, Out of My Closet, and Painting With Tides evoke a timeless folk feel, while the songs Runnin’, Rhythm of the Road, Bring it Here and Chameleon remind you of how roots can rock.
The upbeat, East Coast-influenced title track is cleverly built on the simplicity of three-part harmony – Kim with Carmel Mikol and Phil Sedore – and a kick drum that’s sure to get feet stomping.
“Painting With Tides is where it all started,” says Wempe. “The idea that by changing my view on things and choosing who I surround myself with, I could become a better person and be happier. We don’t really have a lot of control over anything, but this we do. My Mom taught me that… it just took me eight years to finally get what she was talking about.”