By Zach Collier
After successfully raising $4,536 of her $4,000 production goal on Kickstarter this past summer, Kimberly Knighton dropped her latest album on October 14, 2016. Histories is much more subdued than her 2011 release, My Time To Dream. However, the lyrics and arrangements are more mature and have a depth about them that wasn’t present on her last LP.
Knighton has ditched the soft rock/country influences found on My Time To Dream tracks “Rainbows and Butterflies” and “America” and landed on the soul/jazz sounds contained in songs like “Make Up Your Mind” and “Fallen” from the same album. This has resulted in an album that is far more focused and satisfying. Knighton’s voice is far better suited for the jazz and soul genres. She really shines on Histories.
The album opens with the magnificent “Love That Breaks My Heart.” Reminiscent of early Norah Jones, this 6/8 time ballad features some nice organ textures, expertly executed gospel choir backing vocals, and some powerful vocals from Knighton herself. I particularly enjoyed the climax of the song and her belted notes at 3:50-3:59. In addition to power vocals, Knighton is also able to delicately and precisely execute runs in her head-voice during the chorus. They’re remarkably consistent and very, very well done. She’s a talented vocalist. This track is a solid opener.
“Dirt,” my personal favorite, is very much reminiscent of Coco-era Colbie Caillat. The song opens with a nice, finger-picked acoustic guitar line before being joined by some ride cymbal and a tasty, tremolo-filled electric guitar. It’s a laid-back track that deftly highlights the softer qualities of Knighton’s voice. It also has a singable chorus that’s emotionally resonant. I love how Knighton uses the metaphor of a garden to describe a healthy relationship. In order to make love grow, it takes hard work – occasionally getting your hands dirty doing things you don’t want to do. Indeed, “Love grows in the dirt.”
The album is not perfect, however. My least favorite track on the album is “ABC.” It’s a nice song, but I can’t help but feel like the whole concept could have been relegated to a single verse or clever line in a better song. The whole, “I’m the student, you’re my teacher” concept overstays its welcome when carried out over the course of four and a half minutes. Further, the rhyme “ABC/123” has been done so many times in other songs that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and makes for a pretty weak chorus. That being said, it is well performed and produced. It’s just full of cliches and is not particularly memorable.
“Marry That Girl” is a beautiful ballad that would fit nicely in a romantic comedy or during a somber low point in your favorite TV show. I can picture it over the top of a Chuck and Sarah montage, where Sarah has finally realized she loves Chuck but has missed the boat. The longing present in this song is palpable. Get a load of this: “She’s pretty and unique. She gives you kisses on your cheek. She’ll never, ever change her mind – not like the way I did when you were mine. It’s safe to say you should marry that girl today. I can finally say: marry that girl today.” It’s like a dagger to the heart. I love it.
Overall, fans of Norah Jones and Colbie Caillat will find this album very satisfying. It’s perfect for a romantic night in with your significant other, a quiet stroll in the moonlight, or a reflective evening where you’re missing someone you used to love. I would definitely recommend this to friends. In fact, I already have. Knighton is incredibly talented. Here’s to hoping it won’t take 5 more years for another release.
Histories is available on iTunes and Spotify. Make sure to like Kimberly Knighton on Facebook and listen to her song “Dirt” below!