For their debut release, the Kate Hinote Trio beautifully assembles the ideal Detroit songbook.
The Motor City acoustic three-piece of Kate Hinote (vocals), David Johnson (acoustic guitar) and Matthew Parmenter (violin) carefully handpicked an exquisite collection of melodic, mesmerizing tracks from their own catalog as well as from other local songwriters for Near.
“When we were finalizing Near a couple of months ago, I told the guys, ‘One thing that’s going to be compelling about this album is the other songwriters’ contributions.’ Those songs are much different than how I would write or what Matthew Parmenter and I would write together,” said Hinote, who’s previously performed with The Blueflowers, Sound of Eleven and Ether Aura.
Throughout Near, the Kate Hinote Trio features 11 timeless, poignant tracks from The Blueflowers, Don Duprie and Alison Lewis, Emily Rose, Rogue Satellites’ Jaye Allen Thomas, Anthony Retka, Matthew Smith, Duende and Parmenter. Together, these eclectic songs share captivating, emotive tales that deeply explore internal struggles and personal relationships while traveling along a newfound path of self-discovery.
“I knew I wanted to have a Detroit songwriters’ album, and every song is so different because of their contributions. It gave the album some variety, and I’m just drawn to songs that have relationship elements. I think that’s the nature of everybody I included,” Hinote said.
Quick to Moon Draws Water
Along with Johnson and Parmenter, Hinote eloquently examines an unhealthy relationship on the haunting Rose-penned “Quick” as vivid acoustic strums and mournful violin bring deep-seated romantic troubles to the surface.
She cautiously admits, “I could eat a rotten cake/Then come to you with a tummy ache/I could lay my head in your lap/If you drive us some place safe/Sing to you in the evening/If it’ll keep you from leaving/We could talk a little less/Do a little more.”
“The first time I saw Emily Rose sing live she did that song, and I was openly weeping in front of her because her performance just blew me away. When she released her album, Wake Up Brave, ‘Quick’ wasn’t on it, and I was a little mad about it. I was like, ‘Why isn’t that one on there? That’s like the best song,’” Hinote said.
“I pushed her on it and said, ‘But it’s such a good song.’ She said, ‘I tried to record it, but I couldn’t get it where I wanted it for the album.’ I continued to push her, and she said, ‘Well, do you want it?’ I was like, ‘Yes, I’ll take it!’”
After creating a hypnotic rendition of “Quick,” Hinote opted to include a newly written spellbinding proggy folk track, “Where You Dream Now,” with Parmenter. Vigorous acoustic strums and judicious violin strongly warn about the pitfalls of a burgeoning romantic relationship with a troubled soul.
Hinote elegantly sings, “Presented with notions of denial/Berated hearts beat and reach/Colliding in a time/The storms you wish for won’t arrive.”
“Matthew was inspired by our project and recorded five or six songs with chords and melodies, and he sent them to me. I was just not feeling creative and was paralyzed by everything that was going on in the world. I was working at home and focusing on my family, so it took me a while to really dive into it,” she said.
“It was late last summer before I sat down and listened to all the ideas Matthew had sent me. I picked one, and this was the song. Lyrics are the hardest thing for me, so it took some time to get the whole idea down and ready to record.”
Despite the romantic challenges appearing throughout “Where You Dream Now,” Hinote questions finding purpose and moving forward on the gripping Retka soul-searcher gem, “Everything is Good,” as thoughtful acoustic strums and tranquil violin surround her.
Hinote reflects, “I am lost/It’s a building in the forest/Oh I am lost/Ever wanna die/But you’re scared that your mama would cry/It’s peaceful like a building/And I don’t know why/I got tricks up my sleeve/And a wild web to weave/In a place where I believe/Everything is good.”
“Jaye Thomas had invited Anthony and me to play the Haunted Wood Review, and it was a couple of different shows. I came to see Anthony at one of them, and he did ‘Everything is Good,’ which is actually a song from his old band Tone and Niche. It was very stripped down and reverb heavy, and his voice was beautiful and flawless that night,” she said.
“They picked a track from everybody’s set, and it got put on vinyl. That was the song they picked of Anthony’s, and I remember when I got the vinyl, I said, ‘I forgot how beautiful that was.’ I decided then it would be easy to cover, so Dave and I put it together and surprised Anthony with a phone recording of it. He was very moved when I sent it to him.”
Outside of celebrating local songwriters, Hinote injects a fresh, country-tinged life into “Moon Draws Water,” which was first wrapped in dark psych-alt rock sensibilities on The Blueflowers’ 2018 album, Circus on Fire. She co-wrote the enchanting track with Johnson, husband Tony Hamera and Marvin Shaouni.
Cautionary acoustic strums and pensive violin foreshadow the arrival of a destructive woman who will harm others and leave permanent emotional scars. Hinote warns, “Never declining a chance/To be heard and seen/If there isn’t anything else/Who’s listening to this nonsense?/Some are drawn to her/Like the moon draws water.”
“I took the phrase, ‘Moon Draws Water,’ from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ In 2018, we took a family vacation to Florida, and I took ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ which I’ve read probably seven times and decided I was going to read it again,” she said.
“That phrase describes people in a town being drawn to a woman like the moon draws water, and she’s not a particularly good person. It reminded me of a friendship that I had to let go. I knew things about that individual that I wish I could tell other people, but never would.”
Near and Far
Hinote conceived the initial idea for Near after forming the acoustic trio with Blueflowers’ guitarist Johnson and Discipline’s Parmenter in late 2019. She started developing several tracks with her bandmates, and they went into Ferndale’s Tempermill Studio with Hamera last February, right before the pandemic hit, to start recording.”
“I knew immediately this was a chance to record something with my own name on it, but I’m not a fast writer, and I couldn’t come up with enough material to release an album in a year. Luckily, I already had ‘Everything is Good’ by Anthony Retka since that was something I had been doing, and Don Duprie had given me ‘What About Me.’ He was the first person who had given me a song,” said Hinote, who started collaborating with Hamera in 2004.
“It was such an incredible gift to have those two songs. I also sang the title track to Duende’s ‘Murder Doesn’t Hide the Truth,’ and at that point I realized I had a theme. Then, it was a matter of who else I could cover and make sound good. When we went into the studio last February, we recorded five songs, and at that point, we also included ‘Make Me Stop,’ which is on the second Blueflowers album.”
Once the pandemic hit last March, the trio went on a brief hiatus and cancelled their headlining show at Aretha’s Jazz Café with Audra Kubat, Rose and Retka. By May, they regrouped and performed several outdoor shows through the summer before returning to Tempermill to finalize Near in December.
“Anybody who’s been in a band with me or follows me on social media knows that I get very excited about this kind of thing. I just get an energy from all of this stuff, and I knew the first time we played together it was going to be good,” Hinote said.
Hinote, Johnson and Parmenter will continue celebrating the release of Near with a March 27 Spread the Music festival livestream set, which will include an all-star roster of local acts and support the Michigan Music Alliance Artist Relief Fund.
“This album is different from any other one I’ve worked on, and it was more of a unique process than I initially expected. I am so happy with how it came out, and I’m grateful for the experience. I can’t wait for people to hear it,” she said.