Jane Kramer’s third album, Valley of the Bones, released on March 1st, is a collection of 10 poignant original songs. The songs range from the upbeat and sassy “Waffle House Song” to the slow, lilting feel of “Wedding Vows.” This album is one of stories, of feelings and experiences and after listening to it, I feel like I know Jane Kramer, even though I’ve never met her in real life. For those who may be unfamiliar with Jane, she is an Appalachian singer/songwriter who is currently located in Asheville, North Carolina and who has been mentored by Mary Gauthier as a songwriter. Not content to just be a musician, Jane is also a social worker and humanitarian. She regularly teaches the process behind songwriting in prisons, hospitals, rescue missions and to at-risk youth.
Valley of the Bones was engineered, mixed and produced by Adam Johnson of Sound Lab Studios and co-produced by Kramer and Chris Rosser. Kramer says of bringing the earliest, tentative versions of her songs to Johnson and Rosser for arrangement help and production ideas, “I have never trusted two people more with my art. In the past, I have seldom let people hear my songs until I felt that they were polished, but as my musical relationship with and respect for [Johnson] and [Rosser] have deepened, it felt important to me to to involve them from the beginning”.”
The song “Child” is a powerful track on this record, especially for anyone who has personally experienced a miscarriage. It’s not a subject that is talked about much in our society, so the fact Jane has put her pain and personal experiences with miscarriage into a song is inspiring. The song is Jane’s vision of what her child would be and then the sad realization that now that vision will never come to be. All of this grief is channeled into the lyrics of this song and is painful, haunting and heartbreaking all at the same time.
“Two Broke Kids,” a song about the beginning of a marriage, when you’re young, full of hope and the trials and tribulations that arise as you grow as individuals and as a couple, is so descriptive, that it’s easy to picture a couple, standing “neath the Black Walnut tree” to be married with the “ bouquet of wilted peonies and borrowed suit.” The words and phrases that Jane uses within her songs are so perfect that the songs become stories, not just a collection of words arranged to music.
There are many talented singers out there in the world right now, but if Jane Kramer isn’t on your radar or if one of her albums isn’t in your regular rotation, then you need to change that fact and go pick up her newest album, Valley of the Bones. While you’re at it, grab her previous two albums, Carnival of Hope and Break & Bloom. Interview: Jane Kramer on Waffle Houses, Spirituality and Healing By Music