By Christine Leonard
CALGARY — “It’s an expression, but I wouldn’t say that the expression is overtly spiritual in tone,” says singer-songwriter Kenna Burima in describing her forthcoming sophomore album, Hymn. “To me a hymn is an ode and I started playing with the idea of what hymn is. All of the songs I’ve written are about specific things that have happened in the real world and in my life. And, even though I don’t practice any religion, I’m certainly drawn to religious music. From an academic perspective, I find that kind of stuff interesting.”
Branching out from her background as a member of numerous garage bands, keyboardist and neo-classical composer, music instructor, and vocalist in choral projects citywide, Burima has found the room and the support to expand her musical repertoire right within the walls of her own heart and hearth.
“As I was writing songs for this album I very firmly had the elements of horn and synth in my mind. Although I hadn’t decided how I was going my work my partner, Steve Fletcher, back into the group it turned out that that was the most obvious way. He’s all over this album, for sure. If there’s one philosophical thing that he brings to the table, it’s refinement. He approaches things in a very meticulous manner, which are two words you wouldn’t use to describe my methodology. The decision to include a partner is something your really have to consider as an artist, and it’s turned out to be a wonderful idea and a very fruitful collaboration.”
Aside from the anxiety connected to hearing Fletcher (who played synths on the album in addition to engineering and producing Hymn) flesh-out the production of her newest compositions in real-time, Burima has a genuine sense of confidence and optimism about the creative discoveries that occurred during the process of recording Hymn.
“There’s a great talent pool in Calgary, I love being able to click with certain musicians. I’m so happy and proud of what the package is and what we’ve accomplished,” says multi-instrumentalist Burima. “Steve [Fletcher] and drummer Jon May always come as a pair. I’ve learned from them that it’s really advantageous having a rhythm section that’s locked-in as a unit. Carsten Rubeling is the talented jazz, classical, big band trombone player who arranged all the horn lines. The other major contributors, holding down the low-end, were André Wickenheiser (Prime Time Big Band), who plays trumpet and fluegelhorn, and Mark DeJong (The Swinging Bovines) who plays bass clarinet. I asked them to stretch themselves and present whatever they thought was best for the album, regardless of genre. I didn’t want to play it safe.”
An experimental yet thoughtful album that reflects Burima’s perpetual growth as an artist and composer, the seven-song Hymn unifies a bouquet of her musical influences into one cohesive impression. From the Westboro Baptist Church-inspired “God’s Little Soldier” to the anti-violence pleas of “Hymn for an Angry Man” and “Raise Your Hands” it is apparent that years spent balancing her time between her solo practice and the likes of Woodpigeon, Beaver Squadron, Brenda Vaqueros, Kris Ellestad, and LoveWaves has given Burima a unique perspective on the morality of traditional values and the value of traditional morality.
Kenna Burima’s Hymn will be released on May 14th. She’ll be celebrating with a show at Calgary’s The Ironwood on the same date.AB, Alberta, Hymn, Ironwood Stage & Grill, Kenna Burima