Kim Beggs delivers a heartfelt darkness in a beautiful back woods beat driven performance. Sincere, vulnerable, clear eyed and tough, Yukon’s Beggs has garnered 11 music award nominations for her various albums. Kim is releasing her 6th solo album on April 2, 2022. She has toured with Buffy Saint-Marie, Chris Jagger amongst others.
For many artists, the pandemic has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the ability to play live and tour that are every musician’s bread and butter ground to a halt and disappeared as the world sheltered in place. On the other hand, with so much time suddenly on their hands, busy artists had an unexpected opportunity to pause, think and reconsider their direction. For Kim Beggs, the popular Yukon based singer and songwriter, the pandemic provided a silver lining to gain perspective, try some new things out, write and hone new songs to feature on her next recordings.
‘Steel and Wool’, Kim Beggs’ new EP and 6th solo career release is the result of months of consideration during which she re-imagined lyrics and melodies for compositions that she’d written and co-written over the last few years. The resulting new music consisting of four originals and three co-writes is as warm, lyrical and inviting as Beggs’ growing number of fans could ever hope for.
Kim Beggs never rushes her way through a song. Each of her compositions is a model of balance and poise. Having spent most of her life in Canada’s far north has given Kim’s music a spaciousness that has burnished her lyrics down to the bare essence of what she wants to communicate. As always, the relationship between geography and human beings that is inescapable in the North figures largely into the emotionally authentic narratives that drive ‘Steel and Wool.’ Each song resonates with natural imagery and masterfully uncluttered turns of phrase that remind us that when it comes to good songwriting, less is often more. As if to bridge the distance between artist and performer, ‘Steel and Wool’ even comes with lyrics and chords to encourage Kim’s fans to pick up a guitar and try singing the songs themselves.
The title song, ‘Steel and Wool,’ written while in the American deep South – about as far away from Whitehorse as a person can get – suggests that all the elements necessary to a song are right here in our own lives if we take the time to recognize them, it forms a perfect introduction to the EP.
The lilting and lovely, “I Wanna Be a Flower” was written with Sharon Anderson during a 2018 trip to Nashville. Time spent in Nashville also produced the haunting ‘They Shut the Greyhound Down’ collaboration with Kim Richey. Rivers run through ‘Steel and Wool’ as the hopeful, uplifting ‘Down by the River’ (contrary to the Neil Young song of the same name which makes you never want to go near the water again) and the plaintive ode to long distance love “When She Divides the Town written by Kim and Eryn Foster explores the ephemeral nature of community, joy and heartbreak. In a small Northern community, a river is not just a body of water. Signifying the wax and wane of the seasons, the annual freeze and breakup forms a perfect metaphor for the separation we have all been enduring since the pandemic began.
Each song on ‘Steel and Wool’ is like a short movie that traces the narrators’ journey to fight off darkness and move towards the light. For, as unsettling as the lyrics in songs like ‘Not a Man of God’ and ‘They Shut the Greyhound Down’ can be, there is a palpable optimism and belief in a better tomorrow that runs through all of Beggs’ music. Listening through ‘Steel and Wool’ reminds us that there is no hole so deep that you can’t pull yourself out of it.
Tasteful instrumental support from Bob Hamilton, (production, guitars and vocals) Andy Slade, (keyboards) Brian Kobayakawa, (bass) and Lonnie Powell (drums) bring the beautiful melodies that carry ‘Steel and Wool’ to life.
Throughout her career, Kim Beggs has always dispensed with the hip and fashionable in favour of the authentic and true. Without pretension or artifice, ‘Steel and Wool’ offers a compelling window into the world as she sees it. Tender, vulnerable and uplifting, Kim’s music gives her listeners a place to stand in unsettled times. ‘Steel and Wool’ is the most emotionally authentic music you’ll hear anywhere this year.