Kalie Shorr ‘Open Book: Unabridged’ – Album Review
The New York Times’ 7th best album of 2019 has been brought back to life for Kalie Shorr’s latest release, Open Book: Unabridged, available now, December 4th. Take a look below as we uncover her new project.
To be a woman in Nashville making country music is notoriously difficult. Now? That’s old news. Few artists have worked harder than Song Suffragette’s founding member, Kalie Shorr. For nearly a decade, Shorr has been honing her craft and paying her dues, and creating her own opportunities. After signing with New York-based- TMWRK record label, Kalie Shorr decided to re-release her critically acclaimed debut, Open Book. Throwing genre out the window and colors at the wall is Open Book: Unabridged.
The previously 13-track record is now 17 tracks long, and the opener “My Voice” is one of the new four. It’s direct and empowering, the perfect anthem for anyone out there who has felt boxed in and has now found themselves. It’s gutsy, twangy, and anthemic. “Guess what, I can’t change / It’s not my voice / So get used to the sound of my voice,” she sings unapologetically on the chorus. It’s the perfect opening to a record.
The previously released song “Escape,” is about Shorr’s family that lyrically and vocally will give you complete chills. She’s country for a reason: this song is the epitome of three chords and the truth, no matter how hard that truth is to hear sometimes. This song tackles everything from childhood, addiction, an eating disorder, and mental health. “Everybody’s got a star where all their wishes go/And if those stars ain’t lucky, then you’ve gotta hang your own/Getting out of bed is hard if you don’t have a reason/Everybody needs an escape, and mine was leaving.”
Another new track, “Eighteen” is a gut-puncher. Even when it hurts, Shorr isn’t afraid to go there. This song tackles a toxic relationship with an older boy she dated at 18 years old. “I see you out with younger versions of me/While I’m tryna find who I used to be/I’m terrified that you and I will always be/Chasing 18,” she sings reflectively on the bridge. What’s particularly special about Shorr’s music is that in many songs, it’s like you’re hearing a therapy session, hence Open Book. It must be cathartic for her to write and then release these messages into the world, but it’s also cathartic for the listener. She is able to say what many can’t yet, and that’s rare.
Another favorite from the original release of Open Book is “The One”, a song where the production buildup really mirrors the story and it makes it that much better. What makes it such an outstanding moment is the way Shorr cuts to the heart of the lyric. In the verses, you can hear her frustration, anger, and resentment on this relationship gone wrong, but in the chorus, she’s just heartbroken. Plain and simple. Despite everything they went through, “you were supposed to be the one”. In its composition, there’s also something timeless about it. It’s such a universal feeling, and it’s conveyed perfectly.
The third newly released track is “Out of It” is a really interesting vocal contrast to the rest of the project. Shorr has a really powerful lower register that she doesn’t always use, but it’s really prominent here. It’s a smartly written song about an ex who always calls when they shouldn’t. “You come knocking on closed doors/When you’re lonely or you’re bored/Next time you’re out of it/leave me out of it.”
Kalie Shorr’s evolution as a writer, artist, and producer is evident on all 17 tracks. She didn’t make music for radio; she made music for her. And that doesn’t happen often in Nashville. Modern country can sometimes shy away from the most important music, but Kalie Shorr has found a way to incorporate her pop sensibilities into songs with meaning. She used to be the “only one awake”, but it’s about time everyone hears her story, or moreover, the first chapter of her book.
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Open Book: Unabridged is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.
OPEN BOOK: UNABRIDGED TRACKLISTING:
Too Much To Say
F U Forever
Alice in Wonderland
The World Keeps Spinning
Out of It
Thank God You’re A Man
Lying to Myself
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