Artist: Kate Mills
Album: Each Bittersweet Drop
Release Date: 3.6.20
Madly in love with the sounds of the late-1960s, early-‘70s Laurel Canyon scene, Kate Mills taps into the natural, folk-rock grace and warm passion of its most famous artists in residence on her highly personal debut LP Each Bittersweet Drop.
The former social worker invites comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt, as well as more modern country singer-songwriters like Brandi Carlile, on soul-baring ballads such as the regretful and introspective “Honest Mistakes,” with its tender acoustic guitar picking, luxurious piano and soft percussive thumps, and the wistful “No Good at Goodbyes.” Lush, flowing melodies, earnest vocals and rich, contemporary production recommend the intoxicating Americana of Each Bittersweet Drop, as opener “Fall Apart” eases into a brisk tempo that walks under a painted sky of pedal steel. Assuming the dark, bluesy strut of Alannah Myles’ hit “Black Velvet,” Mills turns defiant in the sensual, soft-rock rumble “What Do You Think?” Brushes of mandolin add a touch of bluegrass to a lovely “Cold Spring,” just before the affecting, poetic beauty of “Lights Fade” drives off into the night. Taking the wheel of this album, Mills sorts through the troubles that plague her mind.
As a singer, the expressive Mills captivates, her emotions forcefully pouring out of her. Unwilling to stop the flood, she’s surrounded by the cascading piano and swirls of organ, keyboards and synths of Rocco Dellaneve, the multi-instrumental flourishes of Jeremy Thompson, the diversity of textures from drummer and percussionist Steven Padin and the bass undercurrents of husband Joey Secchiaroli, who also produced Each Bittersweet Drop. Themes of love and grief are explored in emotionally powerful lyrics, and musically, there’s a modern pop sensibility at work here that’s especially prevalent in multi-layered, anthemic “Outrun the Night,” which races until it’s out of breath. Traces of traditional country elegance are woven into the fabric of Each Bittersweet Drop, too, making for a record that’s got one pretty foot in the past and another in the present. That balance is magical.