Kara Ann Marie is a Canadian/British artist who has just released her debut EP, Keeping On.
Growing up on the outskirts of Toronto, Kara has since moved to England with her husband Joshua Luke Smith. Together, they founded the indie label Orphan No More, with Keeping On being one of its releases. Their label seeks to develop artists and create art that speaks into the chaos and ignites the dreamer in each person.
Keeping On is a stunning mixture of Kara’s soothing vocal, folk and gospel tones, as well as captivating poetry. The EP is both a powerful and honest reflection of Kara’s thoughts and feelings during difficult times.
Speaking about the EP, Kara, who recently became a certified counsellor and has combined her creative process with a her therapeutic one, said: “These songs are what I needed to hear, personally, to walk through each season over the last few years. They profess both my belief and lack of it during times of loss, fulfillment and everywhere in between. I hope you find yourself in the music, in the moment when all seems lost or against you, when the waves seem high and the winds are heavy, find the sweet song of hope, courage and of keeping on.”
The first track, ‘Keeping On’, captures you immediately thanks to the opening bars of guitar, which develops into a gospel hum. Kara’s dulcet tones echo over the track, ‘the waves won’t take me down, I’m keeping on still water’. We are then treated to some poetry, recited over the gospel sound which has remained throughout the song. The spoken word is a surprising yet pleasant addition to the song. It is powerful and reminds you that your darkest days make you stronger. A low drum beat is then added to proceedings, giving the song another dimension. ‘The waves won’t take me down, I’m keeping on still water’ is once again repeated over and over, hitting home the message that whatever life throws at you, you are strong enough to still be standing tall.
‘Royalty’, the second track, is a folk-inspired offering, which truly showcases Kara’s beautiful vocal. We love the acoustic vibe to the track, and how raw the lyrics are. When listening to ‘Royalty’, we feel that it represents hope, and that against all odds, those who belong together can be together. The chorus is haunting, ‘you are royalty, and you belong right beside me’, and will leave you feeling mesmerised.
It leads into ‘Walk Slow’, which has a darker vibe to it. Kara’s vocals glide effortlessly over the low background vocals, which is really effective. For us, ‘Walk Slow’ represents appreciating life for all its beauty. We are all guilty of being over-worked and burdened with the stresses of life, however, sometimes we need to take a step back and acknowledge that we don’t need to be ‘all systems go’ all the time. The soothing track will remind you to take that much needed step back, look around you and realise that everything will be okay.
The final track is ‘I Like The Way’, which again has a darker sound to it. Despite the vibe, the song has a very positive message. Kara talks about looking in the mirror and being unhappy with what she sees, as ‘it doesn’t look like a magazine, it doesn’t look like it will fit’ with what is apparently expected in society today. The turning point comes when she hears another voice who assures her that she is perfect as she is. ‘I Like The Way’ is haunting, particularly with the stomping sound at the end. It also encourages the listener to believe in their beauty.
Kara’s debut offering is inspiring, and we love the message of hope, strength and courage that runs throughout. We all need reminding that it’s okay not to be okay at times, but also that we can battle through whatever is causing us pain. The standout track for us is ‘Keeping On’, as we love the combination of poetry and Kara’s gorgeous singing voice.