Seated behind the piano with a microphone in front of her, Karyn Ann belts out "be still, be still"—titular lyrics to the first track from her forthcoming sophomore record, Be Loud. As the song unfolds so does the power of her vocals, which are accompanied by a mellifluous choir that includes Margaret Wehr, Tara Velarde and Tim Karplus and some smooth guitar licks provided by Mark Bowden.
But before "Be Still" was a fully formed ballad, Karyn Ann started writing it "while reading a book on mindfulness and meditation," she says. "I found myself in a transitional state, just starting to date my now-husband and looking ahead at my next album. I became more acquainted with writing on the piano, and the chorus for 'Be Still' just got stuck in my head. I don’t even remember where it came from. My producer Mark Bowden got really excited, demonstrating where the progression I wrote could translate into jazz chords. Then my friends from The Colin Trio [including Colin Hogan on Hammond organ and Brian Link on bass] came in and gave it this full-band feel. They understood exactly what we were going for."
It all went down at 8 Ball Studio in SE Portland a year ago, where Karplus also provided the sound engineering as Bowden produced. "We did full-band takes over three days and ended up with 11 tunes," Karyn Ann says. "We’re now in the final mixing stages" to prep for a May release of Be Loud.