'I don't need to be saved / I don't even need to heal / there is beauty in anguish / that I promise I will yield / I'm okay / You're okay / I'm okay / Everything's all right this way.'? - Kelly Buchanan, 'I'm Okay' ??Everything is more than all right for New York's Kelly Buchanan. With her self-titled 2008 release, she shines as an unflappable rock 'n roll vixen. Her new album is a tableau of mature songs, gorgeous arrangements, simple hooks and a velvet voice. It's a tribute to looking for hope and happiness, challenging yourself to better your life and finding the balance to live up all the detours in the meantime. And it's a new direction for Buchanan. ??Kelly Buchanan lived nine lives before she ever left her teens. She nursed an ailing father at 11, was at a boarding school at 13 and at 15 lived alone in a motel and worked at IHOP. She celebrated her sweet 16 with her bandmates at her public highschool in France and at 17 she was living and volunteering in a squatter town in Guayaquil, Ecuador. There she starred in TV commercials, radio ads, and joined the national soccer team's cheerleading squad before reuniting with her family in the States at 18, just in time to watch her grade school peers graduate from high school. At 19 she was off again, this time to Buenos Aires doing research on rape and machismo through a UNESCO program.? ?These risks and adventures gave Kelly Buchanan a plethora of stories to tell - a release she found in the albums she created along the way: A Bipolar World (1999), Match (2002) and Bastard Daughter (2005). While there were some truly soft and vulnerable love songs peppered in, Buchanan also covered a lot of dark territory, in songs about abuse ('Here with a Bruise'), death ('Breathe You In'), sexual violence ('Hell-Taker') and survival ("Body Bag") - the latter a painful recounting of how she survived being trapped in a predator's basement. ? ?But where do you go when you're ready to move on? That was the question Kelly Buchanan faced as she began writing songs for her fourth album. Bastard Daughter earned her positive reviews, a spot on CMJ's college radio charts, a dozen TV placements (including A&E, MTV and The CW), national distribution through Redeye and endorsements from Daisy Rock Guitars, Elixir Strings and Fender Guitars. She toured nationally and opened for artists including Mike Doughty, Martha Wainwright and The Whigs. But as her career was gaining momentum, the fierce songwriting that got her there was becoming an emotional burden. She concluded that reliving nightmares with every performance was simply not how she wanted to spend her life. ?'I got into therapy at the same time I started writing this record,' says Buchanan. 'I was trying to write something really positive, that I'd want to sing every night, that would make me feel better.' She collaborated with good friend and producer Josh Kaler, a member of the band Slow Runner. The first song they wrote was called 'I'm Okay,' a gentle and introspective ballad whose layered exploration belies it's uncomplicated title. It became the mission statement for an album about healing -- as Buchanan says, 'It's about the simple acts of reaching out and starting over, and the things you need to do to recover.' ? ?Through the eighteen months spent writing and recording the self-titled album, Buchanan wrote songs with a cast of talented artists, including Kaler (who is credited on three tracks), Tracy Bonham, Adam Schlesinger (of Fountains Of Wayne and Ivy) and Jeff Cohen (who has written hit songs for artists including Sugarland, Big & Rich, Josh Groban and Mandy Moore). The result is an album that veers from dreamy to jagged and back again, exploring a wide range of emotional turf in between. Buchanan sings about relishing imperfections on 'Slow Watches,' digging out of the mire on 'Plastic Spoon,' and of holding yourself up to the standard of childhood idealism on 'Kid Self.' She pays homage to rock 'n' roll party culture on 'Easy Pickins' and 'Mr. Romantik.' And she sings about love, but her eccentric slant on songs like 'Favorite Zero' and 'You Are The Fix' makes her voice unique. ? ?Of the choice to leave her fourth album self-titled, Buchanan says it represents a new beginning in her life and career. 'I know I'll be somewhere else in a few years, hopefully more enlightened and evolved and more comfortable with myself and happier with where I am,' she says. 'This is the beginning leg of that next journey.'
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