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  • Bryon Harris

Kate Magdalena - "The Holly And The Ivy"

Review by April Kranz

Award-winning Kate Magdalena has been knocking it out of the park with her steady stream of releases the past few years. Since the release of her first album, Acquainted With The Night (2018), Magdalena has found a plethora of inspiration, as well as musical partners the likes of Billy Smiley, Joan Armatrading, Sinead O’Connor, and more. Her soft instrumentals, as well as her wide range of vocal prowess, have made her an act to follow.

And with the holidays around the corner, Kate brings us a new ballad to sing around the piano with family and friends. We are introduced to soft piano, sweet and light guitar chords, and lifting woodwinds. The song is deceptive in its entry, darker than the rest, but I’ve found that it gives the composition more depth. Quickly we are met with Kate’s merry vocals, painting us a picturesque vision of a winter forest:

“O, the rising of the sun,

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ,

Sweet singing in the choir.”

Magdalena sings of Jesus’ birth, lulling and gentle as the central motif repeats through each verse. The song eventually fades, as temperate and cheerful as the first few seconds. The Holly And The Ivy is beautiful in its inception and makes a fine addition to any Christmas soundtrack this year. If you haven’t already, Canyonlands, the title single from Magdalena’s upcoming EP, is another gorgeous track to put into your rotation. Did I mention Kate’s vocal prowess? I couldn’t believe my ears that it was the same vocalist comparing these two songs—quite the musician to keep an eye on indeed.


About Kate Magdalena

Kate Magdalena is an independent singer-songwriter out of the San Francisco Bay Area, and recently Nashville, TN. Most at home in folk-pop, she calls her genre ‘Timely Americana’, as she is inspired to write for the particular times in which we live. Kate was selected by BWH Music, (Austin) in both 2020 and 2021 as a Women to Watch: Best Female Independent Artists, and her recent album “The Water Is Wide” was awarded Best Album in Adult Contemporary in the 2020 W.A.M. Awards. The album, released in August 2020, contains 9 songs of water and land, including the iconic covers “Downtown” and “I Know A Heartache When I See One,” as well as several originals, most notably “The Waking” a setting of the poem by Theodore Roethke. On this album is also Magdalena’s political song “Backstory” about some of what we are now living through. Kate is dedicated to using her music as an art form that can and must bring about awareness, and ultimately change.

In November 2019 Kate Magdalena released her second album with Grammy nominated producer Billy Smiley (Johnny Cash, WhiteHeart, Clay Aiken) “A Larger Dance” with singles “Be the Lark,” “New Earth,” “Battle Hymn,” and “Streets of Any Town.”. The full album includes songs by Joan Armatrading, Leonard Cohen, Sinead O’Connor, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The title track “A Larger Dance” was just awarded a “Best Song” Silver Medal in the 2021 W.A.M. Awards for Adult Contemporary Music.

Kate’s first album “Acquainted With the Night” was released in 2018 and contains the song “United (to Save the World)” (featured in the album “Peace Street” by BWH Music. Kate released an EP for Christmas 2020 called “In the Bleak Midwinter,” with 6 carols and her new carol for 2021 “The Holly and the Ivy” will add to nicely to that holiday collection. She is also now releasing singles from her next EP “CANYONLANDS” expected in the first part of 2022. Kate lives happily ever after with her husband Randall both in Northern California and Franklin, TN.

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