The Kipsies - Together in Song
By Davy Haynes
Imagine living room conversations with your friends become melodies. The times you’ve cried and laughed with your community are audible in the instruments and lyrics. That’s what the newest record from Albuquerque-based quintet The Kipsies sounds like. After twelve years of playing together, this band has seen it all and found a way to pour both joy and struggle into their art.
Out of the ashes of their previous group Breaking Blue, The Kipsies gathered as long-time friends and collaborators to try something new. They’ve played at major festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and enjoyed intimate stages in hippie towns in Colorado. It’s rare to find a folk band that lists Opeth as an influence over Woody Guthrie or Joni Mitchell. But, The Kipsies are not your average folk band. The band makes modern music on traditional instruments. Though they’re from Albuquerque, the instruments that fill the songs on Breathe In Deep are from all over the world. Using the cajon from Peru, the harmonium from India, and clawhammer banjo style originating in Africa, the band composes songs that walk the fine line between technical skill and passion. Guided by Randy Martin’s banjo stylings and Cassie Roger’s heartfelt vocals, the band crafted intricate, full arrangements for Breathe in Deep with amazing performances from multi-instrumentalist Tim Engelmann, bassist Shawn Berkompas, and drummer Isaac Sanderville.
Their newest record, Breathe in Deep, captures the group’s balance of head and heart perhaps more than any of their previous work. Sanderville recalls, “Our other recording experience relied on producers. This was the first time we had total mastery of how we recorded, and we threw the kitchen sink at these songs.” Recorded in Martin’s attic studio, the band was able to compose, arrange, and record with a newfound freedom. That freedom allowed Rogers to explore personal struggles lyrically, such as the long struggle of having children on the song “In Time.” From the harmonies at the front of “If You Could” to the pounding drums on “Crimson,” the band shows their ability to create intimate emotional spaces in their music. It’s almost as if they’re inviting listeners into their personal stories.
Breathe In Deep sounds like a group of friends making the best music they possibly can. It has all the weight and depth of people who are there for each other, finding an outlet for the highs and lows of life in Martin’s attic studio. They’ve shared stages across the USA and internationally, but they’ve also spent countless hours talking, sharing, and picking stringed instruments. In this day and age of keeping up appearances, The Kipsies are turning our ears towards what really matters: each other. As the band continues to bring their music to new cities and new people, there’s no doubt they’ll keep growing together as musicians and friends.