By Andrew Ellis, Editor-in-Chief
Three years can feel like an eternity. For an artist they may even see a different person. Kari Arnett looks back on it with pride and remembers completing her first EP Midwestern Skyline. Her name on is on the cover, but it was very much a group effort. So much so that she doesn’t really think of it as ‘her’ record.
“At the end of the day I was just so excited that I was recording something that I was just like, ‘Hallelujah! We have a record,’” she says.
She also found herself in the same predicament as many other independent artists starting to climb their way up the slippery ladder of the music industry. What’s next? Well, after sending her record off to a handful of random places she got a bite.
“When I got feedback from American Songwriter Magazine I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’” she says.
It inspired her to keep writing. So she kept writing song after song and even used her songwriting to process what would be a very mentally and emotionally taxing three years.
“I’m going through a divorce, my mom had cancer, and I found out one of my kidneys failed,” she says. “And we had a lot of interesting political changes.”
Her new album When the Dust Settles reflects all of this and more. Songs such as “Only a Woman” were partly inspired the #MeToo movement and her frustrations of being a woman in the local music scene, and “This American Life” reflects on this country’s current climate. There were songs she kept off the record because she kept writing new songs how she was feeling at the time.
“I was like, ‘This tells the story for real. Like, this is real stuff,’” she says. “And I wanted people to hear that in a very authentic way.”
There’s no better way to find that feeling you’re going for than looking to the artists who do it best. When she got in the studio with producer Danny O’Brien he told her to pick three artists who have the sound she’s going for. That authenticity.
“So of course I was picking Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell, and Margo Price,” she says. “But then as we started recording the songs took on a life of their own.”
Another inspiration she wanted to draw from was Lori McKenna. She especially loved her Bird and the Rifle album.
“I loved the way it was recorded live,” she says. “I wanted that feel for this particular song, ‘One More Chance,’ that was a very, in my way, a tribute to Lori, in a way, just because of her songwriting.”
Her ultimate goal with album isn’t just enjoyment. But she wants it to make the listener reflect within themselves just as she did. A lot like Isbell did on his Nashville Sound album with songs like “White Man’s World.”
“I want it to be as true for the listener as it was true for me,” she says.