Youthful exuberance tempered with mature experience
If there’s a perfect use of a song in a movie, it’s the scene from the 1995 film Before Sunrise where the two main characters, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, sit in a small listening booth at a record store in Vienna to listen to Kath Bloom’s “Come Here.”
It’s a song which seems to both mirror and stoke the pair’s budding yet temporary-by-design 24-hour romance, as they take turns staring at each other before quickly looking away, to not be noticed staring.
Bloom’s warm and inviting lyrics, like the lines “No, I’m not impossible to touch / I have never wanted you so much / Come here, come here,” perfectly captures the magical tension and uncertain anticipation of unspoken desires, soon to be manifested physically, and her vocal delivery has an uncommon balance of sensitivity with a rawness and urgency.
“I always have a feeling of urgency,” said Bloom, from her home in Connecticut in advance of her Dec. 3rd Chattanooga debut at Barking Legs Theater. “You kind of have to have a feeling of urgency to create at all because there is at least a race against the clock of your time on earth.”
“The emotional thrust of when you’re younger, it’s stronger, there’s no denying that. But when you’re older, you’re maybe wiser, so you’re just working at that balance all the time.”
Although Bloom has been an active musician and songwriter since the early ‘70s, Before Sunrise brought significant and deserved attention to her remarkable career, which includes a run of albums made with the acclaimed avant-blues guitarist Loren Mazzacane (now known as Loren Connors) in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Her fans include Devendra Banhart, Bill Callahan (Smog) and Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon), all of whom contributed covers of Bloom’s songs for the tribute album Loving Takes This Course, and Kozelek’s record label Caldo Verde serves as Bloom’s current musical home.
Despite having a long career, Bloom only recently became comfortable with touring and playing for audiences larger than a roomful of friends.
“I really haven’t been playing out for very long. I just didn’t like to perform before,” said Bloom. “I just really hadn’t found my live audience. But then, by going to Europe, it really changed it. I do so much better over there.”
Bloom mentioned that one of her favorite performances was a show a few months ago at the End of the Road Festival in Dorset, England, where she received an enthusiastic standing ovation from an enormous audience.
“My life force went more into wanting to play for others rather than wandering around through my day, writing constantly,” said Bloom. “It was actually kind of torturous because I never was hardly ever not thinking of a song in my head, so it was a little crazy.”
“I like the heart energy and feeling the comfort of connecting with other people,” said Bloom.
There’s a timeless quality to Bloom’s music, which has never catered to any contemporary trends.
“Loren [Mazzacane] used to say I kind of created in a vacuum, but I listened to so much,” said Bloom. “It was actually through him, though, that I was into the older blues players, from Robert Johnson to Lead Belly.”
“I was a sponge from the very beginning,” said Bloom, who absorbed and enjoyed just about every type of music, from classical to rock (“All the 27-clubbers. They affected me profoundly.”) to musicals to country.
“Leonard Cohen just died. I had his spice box of poems [The Spice-Box of Earth],” said Bloom. “I think I got that when I was about 15 and knew all those poems.”
Bloom’s father was Robert Bloom, one of the foremost oboists of the 20th Century who taught at Yale, where she snuck into concerts as a child and developed an appreciation for atonal music.
“Schoenberg, a lot of what they call ‘experimental music,’” said Bloom.
Bloom’s Dec. 3rd show will be unique, as she will be backed by Chattanooga bassist Evan Lipson (called by Bloom “such an amazing player”) and Peggy Snow, the charismatic lead singer of the legendary eccentric Nashville folk outfit The Cherry Blossoms.
“I tend to want to hear somebody more in their raw state,” said Bloom. “Autotune—I don’t like that shit. I like it raw and real.”
“If something’s real, it’s coming from the heart. It’s really very simple,” said Bloom, on the notion of authenticity. “If the artist needs to do it and really feels it and you’re missing out on it, then you’re probably not listening.”