Catching Up with Kim Richey at 30A Songwriters Festival

January 23, 2013 by Marla Burns

During last weekend's 30A Songwriters Festival I had the good fortune to visit with one of my favorite songwriters and Nashville acquaintance, Kim Richey. My husband Danny and I sat down with her and chatted for a while before her set Saturday evening at Bentley’s in Seacrest.  We were happy to see her and since it was her first time at the festival we wanted to hear her perspective.

I originally met Kim while working for Asylum Records in the mid 90’s when I was introduced to her by a co-worker at a party in his home. He turned me on to her music and I found myself hooked on her lilting melodies and unpredictable chord changes.

Her lyrics are intriguing and moving, and it’s no surprise that her songwriting credentials include many successful hits. Things We Said, (Believe Me Baby) I Lied, and Nobody Wins, that she co-wrote with Radney Foster of Foster & Lloyd, were all recorded by Tricia Yearwood. Her songs have been recorded by The Dixie Chicks, Terri Clark, Patty Loveless, Mindy McCready, Suzy Boggus, Lori Morgan, Brooks and Dunn and Jim Lauderdale, among others.

Her songs have also been featured on television shows like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel. She’s toured the world and over the years has garnered two Grammy nominations, and six critically-acclaimed albums.

Kim was born and raised in Ohio, and first discovered her musical abilities as a kid singing at church. She took guitar lessons at the age of 12, and although she doesn’t consider herself much of a guitar player, I must disagree after listening to her set at Bentley’s.

Later in high school she formed a folk music trio and remembers their first gig at the local Steak & Ale, after auditioning on a whim, and only knowing three songs at the time. When they got the job, they had three weeks to cram and learn enough songs to cover the gig. Her friend taught her Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game, and she considers Joni to be one of the artists who most inspired her musical journey.

Kim recently moved back to Nashville, after living in London for several years. She spoke wistfully of midnight walks in London with her co-writer/friend, and of the magic of the city. But big cities tend to wear you down after awhile, so she moved back to Nashville and now lives just outside of town in the middle of 200 acres where she can write in the quiet of the countryside.

Kim’s music can’t be pigeon-holed into just one category, and she says she’s "open to a lot of different influences". She will soon release a new album on April 16th, which she says "is a bit more country" than her 2010 album, Wreck Your Wheels.

“It has a clarinet on it, so it’s not that country,” Kim says with a laugh.

This album will have similar production to the last and will have a more organic, natural sound. She again wanted to use minimal effects and record it virtually live in the studio to keep the spark of freshness, missing in so much of today’s auto-tuned, over-processed music. She says they "just jumped in" and recorded four songs a day, calling on the considerable talents of Will Kimbrough, Jason Isbell, Pat Sansone of Wilco, Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, Tricia Yearwood and other special guests.

In addition to the usual CD release, Kim’s new album will also be released on vinyl by the indie label Yep Rock Records. Look for it in stores and online and give it a listen. You just might find you’ve discovered your new favorite artist.

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