I have to admit that I caught my mind wandering more than once during Kari Kimmel’s set at Hotel Cafe Friday night. Not that the artist wasn’t musically and visually captivating (she looked damn good, in fact, especially considering she recently had a baby), but her songs are so evocative and emotional it’s difficult not to relate them to one’s own life. One minute I would be thinking how much I liked a certain melody or lyric, and the next I would be rehashing a scenario from days long gone in my mind. Perhaps this is why her tracks are so often used within film and television soundtracks; the artist has a natural talent for translating experiences into beautiful music.
Kimmel opened her set with the title track off her upcoming album, Out of Focus. This ballad showcased the kind of vocal chops we could expect from the rest of the set and established the artist’s backing band as more than worthy of sharing the stage with her. When she prefaced the next song, “Low,” by saying she often gets made fun of for the dance that accompanies her performance of it, I was expecting something far more ridiculous than the cute little shimmy that she did while singing. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that these people making fun of her must also ridicule newborns and puppies, i.e., all things adorable.
While the upbeat, danceable songs Kimmel performed were a nice break from the ballads, my favorite songs of the set were the ones that really showcased her vocals, such as the stripped-down “Seattle” and her duet with Ernie Halter, “Hang On.” Set closer, “Rebound,” had an almost acapella opening that had me mesmerized and made me wonder how anyone could pay attention to what’s happening on the screen when one of Kari Kimmel’s songs is coming through the speakers.
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