Kris Gruen writes songs about grownup life infused with a mystic wonder, softening the world’s sharp edges like a glass of exceptionally fine bourbon. Kris grew up steeped in classic records. His Americana influenced new folk is grounded in the tradition of great narrative songwriters like Cat Stevens and Paul Simon and yet Kris’s voice is strikingly current. A New York City native who’s put down roots in Vermont, Kris effortlessly blends sagacious wit and emotional depth.
The new album Coast & Refuge is an album both about and created by partnerships where the sonic and thematic threads feel constant, equally at home in the old townships of Vermont where the new folk-artist lives, as it is in the new frontiers of Scandinavia, and the California coastline where much of it was written. The songs retain folk roots, but bring a contemporary urgency and a big sound. The result draws comparisons to Matthew Perryman Jones, Pete Yorn, Elbow, Griffin House, Ryan Adams, and Peter Bjorn and John; in fact, the latter’s Peter Morén appears on the album as vocalist and co-writer of one of the first singles “Every Day and Night Now.”
Over a four year period Kris worked with LA writer/producers Brad Gordon (Vance Joy, Dan Wilson, The Weepies,) and Justin Gray (Dirty Heads, James Bay & John Legend), Ramin Sakurai (Supreme beings of Leisure), Finnish singer-songwriter Peppina, and LA artist AM. During a seven country European tour in 2015, while supporting Jesse Malin, Kris was led to Stockholm to work with Peter Morén. Gruen also collaborated with filmmaker Melissa Miller-Costanzo on the song “Coming Down Around Me” for her feature film “All These Small Moments” starring Molly Ringwald and Jemima Kirke, which premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival this past April. Longtime producer Charles Newman (The Magnetic Fields, The Bones of J.R. Jones) produced the track in his Brooklyn based Cottage Sounds studio, as well as The Morén duet and the album closer, “2008,” a beautifully nostalgic ballad co-written with Los Angeles based artists Jim and Sam.
Gruen has also released acclaimed albums Lullaby School and Part Of It All, and his third studio album New Comics From The Wooded World had contributions from Anais Mitchell and Sean Hayes and was released in the summer of 2013. In 2015 Kris released a limited pressing of the Duos and Trios EP which included a few songs that appear on Coast and Refuge, as well as duets with The Bones of J.R. Jones and Rachel Ries. Kris has shared the stage with the likes of The Avett Brothers, Anais Mitchell, Billy Joe Armstrong, and Sean Lennon and recently finished a run supporting Alejandro Escovedo on the east coast.
- homepage photo by Robin Pope (The Dome, London - 2015) - Instagram-RobinLDN