Record of the Week: Katy Kirby’s ‘Blue Raspberry’

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After graduating from Belmont University here in Nashville, Tennessee, Katy Kirby released Cool Dry Place on the Keeled Scales record label out of Austin. The record received acclaim far and wide. The folks over at Anti- Records, home of Tom Waits and Fleet Foxes, noticed it too and signed a record deal with Katy Kirby. Blue Raspberry is Kirby’s first release on Anti-.

The album takes place largely in Nashville, and then in the transitory period of falling in love, moving to New York and following complications around that love, all the while wrestling with a religious upbringing and the baggage and insight that religion can bring.

The new label has offered Kirby a new expansion of sound on this record. “There are a lot of sounds on it and we definitely didn’t do it the easy way,” she tells me. Much of the Cool Dry Place crew play on Blue Raspberry. “I worked with a lot of Nashville cats on this record.”

With the artist’s incredible songwriting combined with expanded instrumentation, Blue Raspberry is another certified classic from Katy Kirby. She’ll be back in Nashville for a WNXP Presents show at The Blue Room on February 7.

Redemption Arc

Blue Raspberry’s sound is expansive, but the record starts with just Kirby on a piano in Nashville’s Woodbine neighborhood.

“After we came back to Nashville after touring with Waxahatchee, I had been working on songs while we were touring, and then I just kind of didn’t do anything for like a few weeks. Albert would go to work and I would just kind of, like, loaf around his house. Where I was, I was just like staying in a spare room and played his upright piano and so a lot of the songs on this record were written or started on that, that piano that you can hear.”

Cubic Zirconia

“In ‘Cubic Zirconia’ I was trying to capture the straight up exuberance that I felt when falling in love with a woman for the first time. I was thinking about women more and how authenticity and naturalness get leveraged. Especially when women are making choices that are aesthetic. Like makeup or whatever. Technically inauthentic and unnatural, but also really revelatory of someone’s deepest most authentic essence. I was king of putting this together as I was being like, ‘Oh, girls are hot.’ And those ideas collided.”

“Drop Dead

This song is downright jaunty and Kirby says that there is a particular and unexpected musical influence in this song.

“For some reason, in this house, there is a copy of that Barbara Streisand/Barry Gibb record that has ‘Guilty’ on it. That song is such a silly little like make-out trick. And I was like, really obsessed with it for a second. And then I forgot about it. And then I saw it above the sink and I decided I was going to write that day, so I thought I’d try to channel that track because I hadn’t done anything like that before.”


This song, the album closer titled “Table,” has this fantastic kick-start in the middle of the first sentence, and then it features Katy Kirby meekly singing while surrounded by a great din of guitars. It’s so bombastic that it can be hard to hear the metaphor of the table in it. In talking to her, she revealed that it a relatable feeling for many Nashvillians that centers around a religious upbringing.

“The Protestant tradition. Boy oh boy. Got some weird stuff in there, as we all know, in Nashville particularly. There’s a lot to unpack there. A lot of stuff just sucks. We just do not love it and we do not want it anymore. However, like occasionally I’ll roll up to a Quaker meeting or whatever…kind of vibe out. Or someone will say something, then I’m like, ‘Damn, that is that is pretty good.’ I just think it’s silly sometimes, how hard it is for me to decide whether my faith background was good or bad.”