Katy Vernon celebrated her CD release among many musical (and music-loving) friends at the Parkway Theater. Suit of Hearts came out to a full house and lots of enthusiasm. And it was absolutely worth the celebration.
Ukulele player Katy’s moniker has been “sad songs on a happy instrument”. Katy has been very vocal about her experience with depression and alcoholism this album feels like the ukulele is winning. Katy seems so happy and celebrated – although I don’t want to give the uke all of the credit. Katy’s happiness is well earned! I spoke to her about some of the trials and tribulations. It’s tough when you lose your parents young. And it’s tough to take 8 years off your musical career to raise kids. Kids are rewarding, but as a mother, I can attest that raising kids can be lonely and you spend a lot of time looking for the nonexistent manual for them and you!
There are so many things to unpack about the show. First – the songs titles and images on the screen behind here. That’s a reviewer’s dream but it also helps set the tone of each song. The costume changes – wow! The showmanship. Wow! But the songs were the star. Suit of Hearts, the title song, has the biting irony of a Lily Allen, the key change of a Brandi Carlisle and the unique almost falsetto voice of Katy. The lyrics speak to the everyday hero, carrying on and (I think) both appreciating the heroes around and within us.
Wish You Were Here is a sad song. In it, Katy owns the inherent sadness and wistful appreciation that women feel about relationships. It’s about embrace and balance. You can’t love without knowing you may lose. It is also one of the very few sad sounding songs, in which Katy plays the guitar, not the ukulele. Because you really can’t sound sad on a ukulele.
Katy brings an honesty without bravado to the stage and allows us in to what hasn’t always been a happy story, much as I love her singing I think her legacy will be the people she helps and lifts out of their own depression.
The full band is amazing. The addition of the Laurels String Quartet and Prairie Fire Lady Choir. I know Prairie Fire Lady Choir weren’t swaying at full mast, but they sounded fantastic. Who else can successfully mash up I am Woman and We’re Not Going to Take It. And when women have a seat at the table, it’s best to bring other women to join. Although that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Dan Israel as well.
Dan Israel is classic Midwest Americana. His music also sounds unapologetically happy. Love the harmonica and anyone who can do justice to the Rolling Stone’s Dead Flowers.