Hear It First: Chris Kasper, 'O, the Fool'

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

Chris Kasper TheFool 300.jpg
Life, just as with nature, is comprised of seasons. Infancy, youth, middle-age, and old-age are familiar milestones, but even within those phases, we each experience the metaphorical mountains, valleys, and deserts that make up a life well-lived. And though their journeys might be more public and artistic, creative folks' ebbs and flows are no different. Such is certainly the case with Chris Kasper.

For his new album, O, the Fool, Kasper found his muse in a tarot card of the same name that depicts a traveling jester (or vagabond, depending on the deck) with all his belongings bundled in a handkerchief and tied to a stick flung over his shoulder. "The Fool, in the tarot deck, usually represents a new beginning and end to something in your old life," Kasper explains. "It also signifies important decisions that involve an element of risk. For me, I felt this record was doing this, in a musical and lyrical sense. It also sounds a lot like my own personal and musical evolution."

Indeed, Kasper has made intentional artistic strides away from his last effort, Bagabones, which was chock full of minor keys and weird sounds, and toward a lighter lushness that represents and reflects the journey he, himself, made over the past few years. "These songs became small journeys in themselves, even lyrically, traveling from the east to the west," he notes, "through cycles of love, second guesses, car troubles, longing for lazy mornings, letting go, and starting over. "

The song titles, themselves - "City by the Sea," "Moving West," "State Trooper," and "Love Letter from Santa Fe," among others - trace his steps and tell his story across a musical landscape that is both soulful and playful.

"I learned a lot from arranging strings on the last record and I wanted to try more of that," Kasper adds. "My method was to keep the tunes fairly simple in structure, even abandoning choruses in some songs in favor of tag lines or dressing them up with strings, horns, and piano. It felt like a good and challenging road for me to explore."

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O, the Fool is out on June 2. Pre-released singles from the album are available now at iTunes.

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