“You know me. Ain’t you seen me before?” Kaia Kater asks in “The Heavenly Track,” off her new release, Grenades. She answers with, “I’m the comfort of the stranger in the writings on the stall.” The album is full of quietly explosive lines like that, details of life rendered with precision, purpose, and poetry.
“I do a lot of free-writing, which helps get out the imagery that I like,” Kater explains. “That line came from moments when I’d be in bathrooms and see very kind words on the bathroom door. I think the one that hit me was 'you are beautiful.' I thought, 'What compels us to do that?' Drunkenness, sure, but it has to be something more.”
And that “something more” is what Kater explores throughout Grenades, the searching tied to her family’s past, present, and future. “It's a mix of writing about love and finding one’s place at 24, but also about home and belonging which, for me, is a search that extends miles and miles — both on the earth itself and in my brain.”
Born in Montreal, Kater studied Appalachian music in West Virginia and dove deep into old-time banjo music on her previous releases, including 2016's award-winning Nine Pin. For Grenades, she took a decidedly different direction, choosing to lean into a wider array of sounds and styles, in order to convey a wider array of emotions and topics, most notably her paternal ancestry.