• Bryon Harris

Kate Magdalena - “The Water Is Wide”

Reviewed by Aaron Cloutier

The W.A M. Awards celebrate the year’s most outstanding independent artists from around the world in multiple genres and categories. "Best Song" and "Best Album" nominations were based on Artistry, Musicianship, Originality, Professionalism, Diversity, and Excellence. W.A.M. stands for "We Are the Music Makers.' Kate Magdalena's album "The Water Is Wide" was the 2020 W.A.M. Award Winner for Best Album in the Adult Contemporary music category.

When I first hear Kate Magdalena’s voice, I immediately think. “Okay that’s a pro.” At first listen, you can instantly tell within the first few seconds that she has full command of her vocal instrument. Kate sings with both a heartfelt authenticity and experience that brings a calming effect to the listener. I let a few more seconds pass during the first verse on “The Water Is Wide” and I find myself saying out loud “Man..She completely owns this performance.” And its showcased in full form on this epic folk ballad.

Not surprising then is I soon learn that Kate was selected by BWH Music Group (Boston) as one of 2020 Women to Watch: Best Female Independent Artists, and her recent album “The Water Is Wide” was just awarded Best Album in the Adult Contemporary genre in the 2020 W.A.M. Awards. With songs filled with poetic lyrics, vivid imagery, and compelling storytelling, I can certainly see why.

Throughout “The Water Is Wide” in particular, listeners will be greeted with tender strums of acoustic guitar and vocals while subtle washes of synth mixed with gently plucked harp resound through the verses. The arrangements begin to build throughout as the 2nd verse introduces male harmony vocals, fiddle and light percussion. Serving to increase the sheer vastness of the sonic image while maintaining a soothing and relaxing listen.

The production on “The Water Is Wide”, by the renowned producer, Billy Smiley, is outstanding as well with an incredible mix allowing separation of instruments and a full saturation of warmth and frequency. I recommend listening on some good headphones to get the full effect. It feels like you’re getting hugged by the sound. The production coupled with the lyrical imagery and Kate’s soothing vocal delivery conjure up images in my mind of being out to sea first thing in the morning.

I wonder what you’ll see once you give it a listen.

For more information on Kate Magdalena, please visit her website.


About Kate Magdalena

KateMagdalena is an independent singer-songwriter out of New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, whose songs have been aired on country radio nationally. Most at home in folk-pop and adult contemporary, she calls her genre ‘Timely Americana’, as she is inspired to write for the particular times in which we live. Kate was selected by BWH Music (Boston) as one of 2020 Women to Watch: Best Female Independent Artists, and her recent album “The Water Is Wide” was just awarded Best Album in the Adult Contemporary genre in the 2020 W.A.M. Awards.

The album, released in August 2020, contains 9 songs of water and land, including the iconic covers “Downtown” and “I Know A Heartache When I See One,” as well as several original songs crafted from well-loved poems like “The Waking,” (nominated for Best Song, Social Justice 2020 W.A.M.) “Sea Fever,” and “Cloths of Heaven.” On this album is also Magdalena’s song “Backstory” about some of what we are witnessing now; the song was nominated for a W.A.M. Award in the social justice category. In November of 2019, Magdalena released her second album of songs, with Grammy nominated producer Billy Smiley (Johnny Cash, WhiteHeart, Clay Aiken) titled “A Larger Dance” with singles – Be the Lark, New Earth, Battle Hymn, Streets of Any Town. The full album includes songs by Joan Armatrading, Leonard Cohen, Sinead O’Connor, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The title track “A Larger Dance” was chosen by BWH Music as one of the best songs of 2019.

Kate’s first album “Acquainted With the Night” was released in 2018 and contains the song “United (to Save the World)” (featured in the album “Peace Street” by BWH Music. Kate is at work on an EP for Christmas time, and on her album expected spring 2021, “CANYONLANDS.” She lives happily ever after with her husband Randall in Northern, CA and Franklin, TN.


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