Mantras by Katy Kirby album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions



Katie Pruitt

“Her love is a gift I have witnessed her give / but it does not belong to me,” Nashville artist Katie Pruitt sings on the song “The Waitress,” off her highly anticipated second album, Mantras, which just released on Friday. That is the feeling you get, listening to the piercing honesty and visceral beauty of Katie’s songs, that recall artists like Jenny Lewis and Brandi Carlile” with their alternative country feel and satisfying story arcs: that Katie is sharing songs about her truth, because her truth doesn’t just belong to herself, but to the ones who need to hear it.

That truth incorporates, like her first album, Expectations, her queer experience in a Christian-dominated south, and the album starts off dealing head-on with songs that address her personal renunciation of long-held beliefs in her community, that there is only one dogmatic (and often culturally determined) way to navigate life. “A new mantra every other week / All my friends are finding new beliefs,” she sings in the opening song. And on the song, “White Lies, White Jesus and You,” she sings, “You talk about salvation like a birth right / You use it like it’s some kind of excuse.”

Having planted her stake firmly in the ground to open the album, she takes the rest of the album to look inward, and face some of her own doubts, misgivings, and hangups. With songs like “Worst Case Scenario” and “Naive Again,” she uses her gift for honesty to investigate her own skeptical nature, echoing many people’s angst while finding the silver lining in the darkness. “Positive mantra, put it into action / Asking myself, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’”

At every turn, the faith of her upbringing is challenged, but her songs also show some of the ways her upbringing taught her to deal with life. Like coming up with mantras to live by mirrors the South’s propensity to memorize scripture. Or the beautiful song, “Phases of the Moon,” which recalls the Biblical idea of their being “a time for everything under the sun.” That is the thrill of listening to the album, hearing someone who has divorced herself from her past belief system, forging her own new belief system, which feels honest enough, positive enough, and meaningful enough to feel like love in the giving.

Songs are, by nature, often really just mantras. Whether it is the heartfelt urge to “Standstill” during times of chaos, the hard truth that we must learn to love and stand by those who are “Blood Related,” or how we can learn not to “Self Sabotage.” For all of her skepticism and self-doubt, her songwriting has won her many accolades and much-deserved attention as a songwriter. And the record is a rousing success, because of her ability to put her sometimes counter-cultural perspective in words that cut to the heart and music that moves the soul.

Order Mantras by Katie Pruitt HERE


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