Kelly McGrath – You and Me Today


Kelly McGrath – You and Me Today


Kelly McGrath is forging a trail similar to the path other greats have walked before her, but quite clearly carved out in her own fashion. She has three releases under her belt at this point. The first, 2007’s full length debut Fingerprints, heralded the arrival of a major new artistic force. McGrath followed that with 2009’s EP Waiting for Mine. Momentum had built and McGrath soon found her songs being placed in movies and enjoying considerable radio play. Talent is an enormous factor, naturally, in making or breaking a performing artist, but commitment is arguably greater. She made her artistic commitment apparent with her third release, Heartstrings, one of 2011’s best releases from anyone and her highest seller to date. Endorsement deals soon followed on the heels of an 85 cities in 90 days radio tour. The track “One Foot in Front of the Other” from Heartstrings propelled McGrath into rarefied air as one of the Americana and traditional music’s brightest talents to emerge in many years. The latest song from McGrath’s pen, “You and Me Today”, is the first single from her forthcoming fourth release.

The plaintive, yet controlled wail of McGrath’s voice and tersely lyrical acoustic guitar opens the song. Experienced listeners will get a sense of where she is going from here, but it isn’t accompanied with any sense of chagrin. Instead, those experienced listeners will feel from the outset that they are in the steady hands of a capable artist. The sauntering, mid-tempo pace that the song takes seems to embody a certain stateliness she wants to take on, a sense of facing grief with the dignity that it deserves instead of succumbing to it. “You and Me Today” builds at the right clip, but it shows immense patient getting where it wants to go. The drums come in with a great flourish and bass enters soon after. McGrath is constructing a song that achieves its effects through accumulation rather than swinging for the fences from the first second.

The players are top notch from first note to last. They bring precision to the track, but there’s an abundance of ever-elusive feel here too. It isn’t forced and there’s a relaxed confidence coming from the musicians that never pushes too hard on the song. They know exactly how to build the track with just the right amount of attack while still allowing the song breathe and leaving open spaces in the song that McGrath’s emotive voice can fill. They bring the song to a finish with rousing finesse and power.

McGrath is the sort of performer Nashville needs. Her talents aren’t limited to a purely pop realm but bring melody together with great arranging and lyrical virtues. She is a fully realized talent. Her voice is fantastically strong and capable of carrying any song without ever overreaching to pushing too hard to provoke a response from her audience. “You and Me Today” is a mature, forward-looking and pleasing evocation of one of the most painful moments anyone can experience. She makes high art out of it.


Jason Hillenburg