Love's a full-time job.
Tulsa's Kalyn Fay collected that reminder while talking to a close friend about matters of the heart.
"She was going through a rough patch (with her boyfriend), but the love was there and it was cool to see them work through it," she said. "I was thinking a lot on relationships with people, romantic and otherwise, and how every relationship you have, if it is good and true, takes work."
That's where the Cherokee songwriter found inspiration for "Baby, Don't You Worry." The song also pulls from memories of watching her own parents work through emotional speed bumps.
The warm, folky ballad fell together at Red Barn Studio in Springdale, Arkansas during a December recording session. Fay was actually there to track another song called "Faint Memory" for Horton Record's Oklahoma Room at Folk Alliance 2018 compilation.
"Jason Miller helped produce and engineer the track, and he did a phenomenal job," Fay told The Oklahoman in an email. "It came together in two takes and took less than 10 minutes to record, thanks to him and some talented friends."
Fellow Tulsa-based performers Jesse Aycock (dobro/harmonies) and Lauren Barth (guitar/harmonies) contributed to the original track, which was recorded mostly live. Miller added the twangy mandolin parts later.
"I wanted Jesse and Lauren on this track for a few reasons," she said. "Both of them are great musicians with tons of studio experience. They are quick with ideas and follow-through. The added, wonderful bonus is that they're some of my very good friends."
Oklahoma's wealth of talented performers and songwriters isn't a secret. But it's difficult to gauge just how vibrant a scene is unless you take a step back, Fay said.
"I think Tulsa musicians are really stepping up their game this year," she said. "I don't know if it's the political climate, the actual climate or what, but I feel like my fellow Tulsa musicians are ready to do more.
"We've all grown in our friendships (through) collaborations, and I think we're looking for a wider reach. It's been cool getting to see all these friends go out and show the rest of the country what they've got on a larger platform."
Speaking of getting out of Oklahoma, Fay's joining a slew of Okie musicians at Folk Alliance International, the world's largest gathering of the folk music community and industry, this week in Kansas City and is also scheduled to perform Feb. 18 at the Kansas City Folk Fest.
She's following up the trip with a flight to Salem, Mass. to play the opening of the exhibit, "T.C. Cannon: At The Edge of America." Cannon's an influential Native artist who grew up in southeastern Oklahoma, raised by a Kiowa father and Caddo mother.
Choctaw songwriter and Norman-based musician Samantha Crain contributed original music to the exhibit.
You can also expect more from Fay, who's prepping a full-length sophomore album for Horton Records. It'll be a follow-up to her 2016 debut, "Bible Belt."
"Recording and release is slated for this year, most likely looking at the fall," Fay said. "It's a very folk-centric album with lots of love and loss. I can't wait to share it with everyone."
You can download the single on iTunes, too.
REVIEWS BY STEVEN RAPID, KALYN FAY BIBLE BELT HORTON – LONESOME HIGHWAY
The debut album from the Tulsa, Oklahoma based artist is a contemporary take on a mix of country, folk and rock that is immediately accessible and pleasing. Fay is of Cherokee ancestry and a graphic designer by trade (she designed the album’s cover). She also sings and plays guitar and, although it doesn’t clearly state on the cover, has written all the songs too. She and co-producers (Scott Bell and Dylan Layton) gathered some musicians together to realise these songs with their skill and support.
Cody Clinton on electric guitar, Roger Ray on pedal steel and Cory Mauser on keyboards and Kevin Warren-Smith on fiddle are some of the team who join Layton on bass to lay down the tracks. They do so with an understanding for these, often, relationship related songs. Songs that show off Fay’s voice to good effect. She has a voice that has an intimacy and instinctiveness that allows these tales to be told with an understated ease. Black & Blue, Looking For A Reason, Wherever I Feel Right and The Fight all consider the way that relationships can twist and turn while Oklahoma, Tula and the title track are related to people and place. Spotted Bird wonders what secrets the titular creature keeps.
Bible Belt is a very promising start to Fay’s musical career and a chance for listeners to get to know her music in its recorded form from its inception. Her take on country music has a quality that makes it a living breathing form that is capable of going in different directions. There is a video of her playing an acoustic version of Oklahoma with a banjo player that shows another aspect of these songs. But for now this album is worth seeking out for a good listen.
ALBUM PREMIERE: KALYN FAY – BIBLE BELT – BUCKET FULL OF NAILS
Capable of inducing tears with its harsh truths, Bible Belt, the debut album from Oklahoma singer/songwriter Kalyn Fay, will steal your heart.
There are no shades of gray on Bible Belt, just sanguine tales backed by sweeping pedal steel and strings. From the domestic upheaval of “The Fight” with its “All you held was the rug / And you pulled it out from under me” to the dumbstruck wanderer of “Middlegate Station” who’s treated to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, Fay weaves fate and love’s stranglehold throughout the album’s ten songs.
Utterly sublime by any standard, Bible Belt marks the entrance of a powerful and wise voice in Americana music. Bucket Full of Nails is proud to premiere Bible Belt in its entirety. Stream the album below and purchase Bible Belt on CD via Horton Records or digitally through Continental Record Services.
KALYN FAY RELEASES DEBUT SOLO ALBUM – TULSA WORLD
While working in the tiny town of Middlegate, Nevada, Kalyn Fay Barnoski met a teenager from Iowa who ran away from home.
“He was probably like 17 or 18 and was just staying there,” Barnoski said. “So they had brought a guitar so I would play it. Every night, he said, ‘Would you play me a song? Would you play me songs?’ I said sure. So I wrote this song because of him.”
“Middlegate Station” tells the story of her interaction with the teenager, what she sang him and what he should do, rather than run. It’s one of the many stories Barnoski tells with her debut album, “Bible Belt.” And it’s the song Barnoski sings for the return of the Backyard Concert Series. See the performance with John Calvin Abney at tulsaworldtv.com.
The ethereal Americana that Barnoski captured with her latest album comes from her experience learning guitar while in college, working on a thesis about her own spirituality and from the influence of the musicians who gather at The Colony.
“I was mostly doing printmaking for my thesis so I did a lot of printmaking and embroidery work, but my focus was on my background of white, Southern Baptist Christianity versus my Native background and growing up saturated with Native spiritualism,” Barnoski said.
She just this year completed her master’s degree at the University of Tulsa and is aiming for another degree with the goal of being a professor, she said.
Barnoski had a background in jazz playing trumpet, but the guitar was a new venture for her. She started playing in a duo but wanted to continue playing after that fell apart, she said.
“I started going to Colony for the singer-songwriter nights, so that’s how I got started in Tulsa,” Barnoski said. “I love being at Colony and I love that I’m part of that community now because everyone is so quick to lend a hand if you need it or if you’re starting out. The environment is really one of learning and a willingness to help.”
The album was originally set to be an EP, only working on music during her free time while in grad school. However, by the time she stepped back, she realized she had several great songs — more than she intended. That led to “Bible Belt” being a full-length album.
With mixing and producing by Scott Bell with Dylan Layton as co-producer, the finished product was different than what she intended.
“I thought it was going to end up sounding a lot more rootsy-er or Americana, and it still has that vibe, but there’s a more ethereal vibe to it,” Barnoski said.
“Going back and listening to it, it’s different than I thought it would be, but I really like it.”
CHECK OUT THESE GREAT ALBUMS RELEASED SO FAR THIS YEAR – TULSA WORLD
Few musicians can paint as detailed a picture through music as Kalyn Fay Barnoski, fitting because she is also a talented visual artist. “Bible Belt,” released in June, is a beautiful collection of songs that tell touching stories through her strong but ethereal voice. We were lucky enough to have Barnoski play us a song for our Backyard Concert Series with the talented John Calvin Abney (who is releasing his own new album Sept. 23). She played “Middlegate Station” from the album, a specific story about a specific event in her life, but one that, like the rest of the album, most will find relatable.
KALYN FAY - BIBLE BELT – THE ALTERNATE ROOT
Kalyn Fay (from the album Bible Belt on Horton Records) - The Oklahoma Room was the hot ticket for Folk Alliance 2016. Kalyn Fay was one of Tulsa talents that played, and played, and played throughout the weekend. The musicians mixed and mingled, backing one another and stepping to center stage as needed. The sound that Kalyn presents on her recent Horton Records release, Bible Belt, once again showcases the music of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its family of musicians. Kalyn Fay passes over her stories with an easy vocal, her voice landing on the music bed to tease the tales by stretching out the notes to the edge of the rhythms. Bible Belt whispers secrets in its title track as Kalyn sings of childhood, still calling home a place she has left behind long ago.
The stories are conversations, Kalyn Fay seeming to inhabit both the present and past with the same spirit as she seeks the truth in “The Fight”, finds a fan of Classic Country Kings and Queens in the middle of nowhere in “ Middlegate Station”, seduces tales from a “Spotted Bird” on rumbling beats and freckled notes as she relates “The Plan” on hushed rhythms and quiet fears. The life around her comes alive in the slow sway of her songs. She is the sound track of native soil in “Oklahoma”, as she sings from the perspective of her native heritage in a Cherokee tribe. Kalyn Fay shares her love in the one-on-one requests of “Wherever I Feel Right”, and opens her heart to include for her current home in OK’s Green Country as Bible Belt slows the beat to keep time with “Tulsa”.
DISPARATE WORLDS – THE TULSA VOICE
“Michael Jackson and MC Hammer were my dad’s music, and my mom listened to Whitesnake. Now I play folk music,” Kalyn Fay said, chuckling.
She’s a witty, passionate, artful dork who loves her dog, her family, her print work and her newly discovered gift for writing songs. In March, she defended her thesis, a manifesto on the conflict between Native spiritualism and what Fay calls “her white family.” The daughter of a French-Irish mother and a Cherokee father, Fay lives in a space of contradictions. Her arms and legs are littered with tattooed remembrances of these disparate worlds: Old testament prophets and “Awi Usdi,” a deer spirit from ancient Cherokee tradition where the elements of the physical world have meanings that transcend nature’s limits.
At age 26, she seems to have finally embraced her contradictions. Kalyn Fay’s new album, Bible Belt, comes from a deeply honest struggle to understand her parents’ lives in the uncertain context of her own.
In writing her songs, Fay has had to rediscover some of her own past. In her memory, she is four years old crooning “Victory in Jesus” on her white grandmother’s piano. Then she is ten and her father is forbidding her to see the medicine man, saying only, “If you know good medicine, then you know bad.” She repeats this phrase by rote like scripture, and even compares “good medicine” to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Bible. It’s a closed room full of secrets too powerful to learn. Over the years, peeking in and out of that room, Fay has gained a profound spirituality and a sense of identity wholly unique to herself.
“A lot of these songs deal with my personal faith and living here in the Bible Belt—dealing with that and trying to find your way around those certain views and certain people,” she said. “My entire family switched over to Christianity when my dad was in high school, but it’s funny because they still carry these Native ideas and superstitions. There was an owl that was sitting outside our house for like a week, and he’d go out everyday with a big yellow plastic broom and try and scare it to try and make it leave.”
In 2008, while studying graphic design and print lithography at TU, Fay wrote her first song, a sappy ukulele love ballad penned for her then-boyfriend and eventual fiancé. When they broke up, she suddenly had to build a new life for herself.
From then on, Fay never stopped writing. She kept her guitar close and began crafting the songs that would capture this difficult and beautiful time in her life.
Don’t remember much about that house on Broadway, that town in the Southeast. Trees are swaying around as if they had a secret. Wish they would’ve told me. ... Can’t explain just how I felt, living in the Bible Belt, she sings on the album's opening track.
She walks us across her history slowly. Long sun-swept stretches of flat grass and red Earth lay vast with echoes of her grandmother Betty's voice telling Cherokee stories in her Native tongue.
“I think I’m just trying to tell my stories and trying to tell other people’s stories,” she said. “My grandmother taught Cherokee to children from home for a number of years. A song like “Spotted bird” only exists because it’s based on ... Cherokee beliefs about owls. My family doesn’t like owls because they are supposed to be able to let you know that someone is about to pass on. Cougars and owls are supposed to be really holy animals. If an owl stays at your house for so long it’s supposed to be a bearer of death.”
Cherokee belief is strewn throughout this album as much as the Bible belt itself. Trees awaken. Owls and cougars are harbingers of death. Even the deepest, most God-centered plan can seem to evaporate before the unflinching strength of nature.
Oklahoma is also a constant character, as Fay's soft alto voice leads us through whiskey-soaked evenings from Tahlequah to Tulsa and fights with know-it-all lovers who “should probably shut their mouths.” The warm jangle of lap steel, country guitar, fiddle and drums underpinning these 10 tracks has a particularly Oklahoman tone, as well.
Co-produced and tracked by Scott Bell and Dylan Layton, the songs are spacious and warm, driven by a country and folk rock sensibility reminiscent of Sun Sessions records from the 1950s, while also containing traces of modern bands like Beach House and Cat Power.
Bible Belt lays a lot for its listeners to unravel. In less than an hour, it sings, pleads, intones birdsong, laughs and wanders through a young woman’s faith and memory with a simple wisdom. God is a ghost in the walls on this record—not just a moral force but an emotional one, like some lost love persisting past reason.
After our interview, Fay sent me a picture of herself at six years old. Imagine a lively kid with chestnut eyes and an auburn half-mullet, wearing a faded blue Disney Pocahontas t-shirt and smiling dubiously at the camera. Twenty years later she’s still that kid—riddled with the questions and uncertainty of life. But, she’s also still smiling.
“I hope people find their own way to talk about their faith and their views on life through this album. I hope it makes them feel less afraid to discuss certain issues,” she said.
As Fay says on the album's final track, “Plans,” I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s a hard lesson when you’re full up of doubt ... We can plan, but life’s still gotta deal us a hand that we’ll never quite understand.
KALYN FAY - BIBLE BELT – WWW.INGEPLUGD.NL
De recente samenwerking van Horton Records (Oklahoma) met het Nederlandse Continental Record Services heeft al mooie muziek voor de Nederlandse markt ontsloten. We schreven al eerder over Rachel Dean, Pilgrim en Carter Sampson. Nu hebben we met Kalyn Fay echt het gevoel goud in handen te hebben. Want dat gevoel ontstaat al snel bij het luisteren naar Bible Belt, haar debuutalbum. Van de eerste klanken tot de laatste noten houdt de muziek je in de greep, zo mooi wordt er op dit album gemusiceerd. Hier is sprake van een perfecte combinatie van stem, songs en begeleiding. De eerste twee elementen zijn de inbreng van Kalyn Fay, maar wat het laatste betreft verdienen Dylan Layton en Scott Bell alle eer. Bij enkele nummers hoop je zelfs dat de muziek oneindig blijft doorgaan. Er lijkt een heilzame werking van uit te gaan.
Maar de ster van het album is nauurlijk Kalyn Fay, die haar persoonlijke teksten zingt met een aangenaam heesje in haar enigszins lage stem. Die stem doet denken aan Tanita Tikaram, dus ver weg van een countrygeluid dat je al snel zou verwachten bij een productie uit Oklahoma. Maar de muziek van Kalyn Fay is folk .
Kalyn Fay is een Cherokee vrouw die haar roots zeker niet verloochent. Ze is grafisch ontwerper van opleiding en beroep, ze heeft dan ook haar eigen platenhoes ontworpen en hoezen voor diverse andere albums en affiches voor concerten. Van jongs af speelde ze op diverse instrumenten en in 2011 startte ze met optredens in het publiek. In hoeverre haar roots een rol spelen in haar liedjes niet helemaal duidelijk. Helder is wel dat ze levensvragen niet uit de weg gaat in haar verhalende liedjes en geen moeite heeft daarbij de natuur te raadplegen. Ze zingt over de dingen dicht in de buurt: haar vrienden, de omgeving (Tulsa) en de natuur (Spotted Bird).
Het album opent prachtig met Bible Belt en je raakt meteen meegetrokken in de muzikale flow aangevoerd wordt door de pedal steel van Roger Ray. Zoals hij op de meeste nummers verantwoordelijk lijkt te zijn voor zo’n flow waarvan je niet wilt dat het ophoudt, zoals in Middlegate Station, met het getokkel, de fiddle, de steel en de beschermende orgelklanken op de achtergrond.
Bible Belt is een verrassend debuutalbum van Kalyn Fay een zangeres die beschikt over vele talenten.
Kalyn Fay - acoustic guitar / vocals
Cody Clinton - electric guitar
Roger Ray - pedal steel
Corey Mauser - organ / keys
Dylan Layton - bass
Dylan Golden Aycock - drums / percussion
Nicholas Foster - drums / percussion
Kurt "Frenchy" Nielson - mandolin
Fiddle - Kevin Warren Smith
Scott Bell - percussion
Harmony Vocals - Erin O'Dowd, Jordan McLeod, Rachel La Vonne
REVIEWS - KALYN FAY – FATEA
In a year when sparkling releases from the ladies have not been in short supply - Carter Sampson, Lucinda Williams, Sarah Jarosz for starters - I'm pleased to say another gem is brightening life.
Bible Belt by Kalyn Fay has got intriguing, grounded songs, wonderful vocals, and a freewheeling band, and it's all the more admirable as it's a debut album that feels like something a seasoned artist would yield and hold up to close examination.
Like Carter Sampson, Kalyn is from Oklahoma so there must be something in the water in this pioneering state to create inspired music like this, or is it something coursing through her Cherokee background and artistic blood.
It's a state of contrasts, and so is Kalyn's album, though red dirt country is kicked up with real joy, tinged with inevitable sadnesses, all the way through with the likes of Ryan Adams and Emmylou looking in as well. It takes a welcome meander through a range of emotions that veers from raw to haunting with Roger Ray's expressive pedal steel, Cody Clinton's probing guitar and moody blue fiddle from Kevin Warren-Smith ensuring warmth and spark to emphasise Kalyn's husky tones.
Title track, first up here, has an undoubted Ryan Adams' intro: pedal steel with raspy drums dipping in and out of the mix. It's a terrific opener. Black and Blue then alters the thought processes as Cat Power or Mazzy Star meander into one's mind: gently nervy and utterly delicious.
It's one of those songs - and this happens with Lucinda Williams as well - when you wonder whether she'll make it to the end of the line, never mind the final verse. Black and Blue demonstrates the diversity of the collection wonderfully.
Looking For A Reason swoons its way through five minutes of unhurried pedal steel, dark brown, plaintiff vocals and harmonies as gentle as a feather floating in the breeze. The excellent Oklahoma rises to a spry bounce and joy with Kalyn's voice confident and breathlessly in charge over a fine veil of fiddles and acoustic guitars while Middlegate is delivered unhesitatingly in a downbeat, fragile manner.
Tulsa - where the album came together - finds her praising the place in preference to city living while final track, Plan thrives with stirring fiddle to give a base to a song that's all about doubts and future directions where she's still trying to figure things out.
Musically, this newcomer has certainly worked out how to craft lyrics and music into a meaningful, ten-song collection that will prove quite irresistible to many, like me.
KALYN FAY – INTERVIEW – OK HUSTLE
“Do you remember all the things that you once said to me? Honey, pray to the Lord if you want to be free.”
Hearing Kalyn Fay’s earthy alto voice dip into “Black and Blue,” one would assume she is a seasoned folk performer. Surprisingly, she has only been an active musician since 2013, attributing her late-blooming affinity for folk and Americana to her college years. When we met, she mentioned a wide range of musical influences, citing her discovery of Sufjan Stevens as particularly formative.
“I love how simple he is,” she explains, “how he uses a lot of folk structures with symphonic elements.”
But when asked about her writing style in her new album, “Bible Belt,” she shied away from Stevens’ elevated lyrical content. “I don’t feel like a very poetic person; I‘m pretty plain-spoken. I want my music to reflect how I actually speak and feel about life.”
“None of those prayers ever saved me from my own thoughts.”
This commitment to honesty inspired her exploration of spiritual truth, driven by her half Cherokee, half white Southern Baptist heritage, delivered with a characteristically Okie warmth and vulnerability. Throughout the album, she bares her struggles to her listeners, inviting them into her well-traveled mind to share the wisdom and mysteries she’s uncovered.
“A human element of being a Christian person,” she says, “is that you have to own that you’re going to question things. I’m not perfect - I’m gonna ask questions, I’m gonna wonder, I’m gonna struggle.”
She shares a soft smile. “I want people to know that they’re not alone in whatever they’re dealing with.”
Kalyn’s music achieves a sort of hazy timelessness, her introspective storytelling accompanied by a haunting country band, drifting through the soft pleading of lap steel and fiddle. The sound is unabashedly vintage Americana, with a dreamy ambience comparable to Grizzly Bear or Band of Horses.
She describes her sound as “definitely shaped by Oklahoma,” citing local musicians such as Beau Roberson of Pilgrim, Jared Tyler, John Fullbright, and John Moreland as influences. She also uses her songwriting to share her reverence for the land, paying homage to her Oklahoman and Native spiritualist heritage. Trees and birds carry secrets, as captured in “Bible Belt” and “Spotted Bird.” The wind carries weariness and burdens in “Oklahoma.”
Written for the doubter, the believer, for the seekers and finders, Kalyn Fay’s debut album intimately captures the tension of a shifting faith. Wandering through ears and minds, “Bible Belt” shares the story of a young woman closing the chasm between childlike promises and developing realism, leaving listeners with a lasting hope of resolution.