Album Review: Kari Arnett “When The Dust Settles” / LP Release Show at The Cedar Cultural Center 9/20
Kari Arnett’s debut full length LP, “When The Dust Settles” is a collection of self-reflective songs about the pains of growing older, memories of loves lost, and the dream of finding a new life in a new town leaving all of her struggles behind. Recorded and mixed in Minneapolis, MN with Producer Danny O’Brien (Hot Dad Labs) and Mastered by Huntley Miller, this album feels like an instant American classic with a level of honesty and emotion that grabs the listener immediately.
Eleven tracks strong, the album opens with “Dark Water”. Kari begins the song ominously stating “Outside there’s a storm a brewin'” instantly setting the expectation that change is about to happen, it’s going to hurt but you’re going to be okay if you walk through that storm, swim through that dark water, run through the darkness and don’t look back.
In “Breaking is Easy”, Kari moves through daily ups and downs, successes and failures, stating “there will always be one for the money, two for the show” and putting importance on keeping a positive outlook on life no matter what comes. It’s a tender song about cherishing what you have, and not being too hard on yourself. Listening to the song I picture her thinking to herself, as she drives down the highway with the top down, sun shining on her face as she decides what to do next in life. This song gently slides into the next track, “Starting Over” which feels like the next chapter to the story begun the song before. It’s the realization that you cannot change the past, and you’re at a junction in the road where anything is possible.
One of my personal favorite songs on this album is “Tired of this Town”. Kari finds herself alone at a bar, with only her thoughts and a drink, reminiscing about chances taken and time lost. Her home is empty, full of memories of a lost love and it’s time to make a change. Change is a central theme in “When the Dust Settles”, and I find myself remembering similar moments in my own life and how I can relate to the story being told throughout the album.
Another personal favorite from this album is the penultimate track, “The War”. It is deeply moving song about supporting and loving another in the midst of a personal struggle. The love and caring in the vocals hits the listener at a visceral level. If you’ve supported a partner struggling with addiction, PTSD, or a mental disorder, this song will resonate with you. It’s one of the highlights of an album full of potential hits.
“When The Dust Settles” is a classic Americana, Folk-country album, full of stories of love, pain, regret, growing older, and finding strength within yourself to keep moving ahead, supporting those you love, even when it’s tough. Telling the tale of a woman’s journey through dark times, finding her inner strength, and maintaining an outlook to the future, it should be heard in its’ entirety. “When The Dust Settles” will be released tomorrow, September 20th.
Kari Arnett is playing at The Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow night September 20th in support of her new LP, with support from Mary Bue and Becky Kapell. Doors open at 7:00, music starts at 7:30, and tickets are available here
Christopher Goyette is a live music and event photographer in Minneapolis.