Three the Hard Way

by Krystle Warren

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1.
So We Say 03:46
When it goes tits up and cars are abandoned scattered on highways doors are wide open Ah Everything everything will be The swell of the ocean abstains from the shore and keeps pulling back exposing the body Everything everything will Everything will be O​h, now it's peaches peaches and cream it's it's just the way it's been told to be. So we say we'll be alright People rise and fall in pieces but that's the price for being free. So we say we'll be alright The finger on the trigger can't see the future: it always pulls back toward the past.. Everything will be alright -- "I..can't..breathe..." ..and threatens to cease my constitution! When it goes tits up and cars are abandoned scattered on highways doors are wide open Ah Everything everything will Everything everything will be
2.
Don't tell me to leave you, whatever you do - believe me, I know where I belong I'm going where you're going, however the road 'cause I don't wanna go it alone Take me to The Rock Lead me in The Light Take me to The Rock Lead me in The Light Ten years come, ten years gone - think of everything we've been through May the lord condemn me so severely... Still, I'm clinging to You Take me to The Rock Lead me in The Light Take me to The Rock Lead me in The Light Don't tell me to leave you, whatever you do - I know where I belong I'm going where you're going, however the road 'cause I don't wanna go it alone
3.
Jadis, si je me souviens bien… Jadis, si je me souviens... Jadis, si je me souviens bien... Jadis, si je me souviens... For a good while I'd been dreaming woke up in a French film stumbled home over cobblestones with her, or him Let's talk about it Heart, alive in whimsy head, aware, just barely Daddy couldn't help me, 'didn't know where I was Lauded as the new "soul diva" Chapman mixed with some other black chick Here's the thing: I've never owned a record of hers No disrespect, she just isn't my shit Sis said, "Sing for Jesus, whatever you do." Forgive me. Jadis, si je me souviens bien... Jadis, si je me souviens...
4.
'Been sometime since I've said to Thee how I love You how I'm grateful Here I am I've come to praise Thee for Your certainty where I was doubtful In this world of rising waters so heavy, so dark, and deep Comfort is found in what You mean to me I was lost I was wandering came so far to be all alone but You found me told me it's gonna be alright took me in Your arms where I found home In this world of rising waters so heavy, so dark, and deep Comfort is found in what You mean to me Bless this little lamb now at your feet in a world so dark and deep Comfort is found in what you mean to me
5.
6.
Red Clay 02:40
How many souls how many souls how many souls did they leave on the ground face down in the wet red clay? In the wet red clay... Three to a grave three to a grave three to four men stacked in a jagged box four to one in the wet red clay in the wet red clay Heavenly Father Heavenly Father Heavenly Father... look what they do to me... The devil in sight the devil in sight the devil in sight, without its sheet took aim, shot every soul on the street and it took to the sky, lowered bombs to defeat the innocence of Greenwood Street made it fall to ground on an evening in May in the wet red clay in the wet red clay
7.
Get a Load 02:09
We were late the sun was sleeping How'd it pass without photo proof? Hours frayed as we went further staring down the avenue No one's perfect Nobody's Jesus and just look what they did to him Flesh and bone are weak enough Lean in close get a load of this Things fall down people look up and when it rains it pours Here with you holding this feeling Sharing pride from banging on those doors Soft blows, nothing of consequence It's a dead day, but it won't lie down Who said you have to go it alone? Lean in close, get a load of this
8.
Mind if I join you? Hide from the city’s view Losing the hours As they found you How many others Came with their questions, prosed? Rooted in silence Reaching still Here I tell secrets Whispered between the leaves Nestled within them Thick as thieves Leaning against you Trace where your scars meet mine Warm in the wounding Sharing breadth How have you stood here? How did you stake your claim? Still stretching skyward As it falls Maybe you chose to gather the weight of stones dug in your heels and learned to bend
9.
Move! 04:54
Move! Move! Move out, make way! Move! Move! Move out, make way! Move! Move! Move out, make way! Move out, make way for the new ellipsis! Half of the people are stoned and the other half are waiting on the next election! Half of the people are drowning and the other half are swimming in the wrong direction!

about

Kansas City-born, Paris-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and powerhouse vocalist Krystle Warren’s Three the Hard Way is an elegantly bare testament to the complex resonances of Black music and to the traditions of incisive commentary and spiritual seeking that have often walked with them. These are songs of earth and soul, of poetic protest and potent grooves.

Warren speaks boldly, going far beyond glib pop posturing on civil rights, empowerment, and personal commitment. She witnesses an apocalypse of brutal revelation, the depth of injustice, and anxiety smothered in the slick surface of today’s words and deeds. The deep past underpins and warps the frenetic present, when Biblical devotion becomes a hot love affair (“Nae-Nae and Ruthie,” a blues-inflected reframing of the Old Testament story) and when questions of faith and doubt (“I Hope He Comes Back”) resolve in the eternity of a single tree, toughing it out in the middle of a city (“Learn to Bend”).

For Warren, this was familiar territory, yet she had never worked so explicitly with these musical influences in her earlier, singer-songwriter work, music that caught the ear of Rufus Wainwright. (Warren toured with Wainwright’s band and opened for him.) “When [longtime friend and Grammy Award winning producer, engineer Ben] Kane and I began talking about this project, I immediately started thinking gospel,” a sound that bursts through tracks like “Move!” “I grew up Southern Baptist, with an incredible choir at church. I started listening to old recordings of various gospel choirs... I began learning the language again. It’s always been a part of me.”

Warren and Kane (D’Angelo, Emily King, PJ Morton) worked in dialog to find just the right sound. “It was very clear that this would be the album to do together,” Warren notes. “We pared it down to two minds, navigating through and figuring out what we wanted to say.”

The instrumental voices speak in a language taut and lean. Gospel, early R&B, and raw blues couple with the lush intelligence of artists like Nina Simone and Pharoah Sanders. They form the bedrock for Warren’s sometime provocative, sometimes tender commentary on injustice’s persistence, religious estrangement, and profound relationship. “Historically, the blues and the black church have provided soulful responses to suffering and oppression,” Kane says. “Krystle is using this musical language to reflect on our modern-day pain and madness.”

As Warren and Kane explored this language, they started with “Thanks and Praise,” where tight bass and guitar bounce beneath layer upon layer of Warren’s rich, sinuous voice. “That was the starting point,” adds Kane. “The song really tilted the direction of where we could go with this album. It’s an important departure from that folk world Krystle has been exploring for the majority of her career.”

With Kane as a sounding board, Warren was encouraged to move into new places, playing bass, drums, lap steel, piano, guitar, and vocals directly to analog tape. She and Kane recorded in Villetaneuse, France, a small town on the outskirts of Paris in a vintage 70s era studio that offered just the right, rich sound to suggest the musical foundation for the record, and to do justice to the duo’s carefully balanced arrangements.

Some of these arrangements open up into ecstatic choruses and irresistible grooves. Some stay stark, startling. Take “Red Clay,” Warren’s shiver-inducing homage to those who suffered one of America’s most shameful eruptions of racial hatred, the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, also known as the Massacre of Black Wall Street, in which a prosperous Black community came under merciless attack.

“I started thinking about those early gospel songs. In deciding to play with the minimal sound of a simple guitar and voices - very work song, early gospel, I knew that the subject had to match it,” explains Warren. “The massacre in Tulsa is something that a lot of people aren't aware of. I felt it was time to write a song about this awful thing that had happened, to write from the perspective of someone who had lived it, endured it.”

Gospel’s abiding devotion to the elevated moments, the cornerstone of the spirit, also resounds in Warren’s songs, but not without wry questions. “I’m not passing judgement, though I myself have doubts and concerns when it comes to organized religion,” Warren muses. “I wanted to start a conversation about spirituality. To loosen the binds of organized religion and flip some ideas on their heads. Essentially, I wanted to challenge, without being too rough. It may be a shove, but it’s a loving shove. “

credits

released August 18, 2017

Produced by Krystle Warren and Ben Kane
Recorded, engineered, and mixed by Ben Kane
Written and performed by Krystle Warren, except where noted
Assistant engineer, tape operator: Manuel Aragon
Assistant mixing engineer: Jackie Sanchez
Technical services provided by Ricky Begin
Mixed at The Garden, Brooklyn
Mastered and cut by Alex DeTurk at Masterdisk
Album cover art: Kyra Termini

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