Kimberly Sunstrum has been busy carving and shaping her music career since she made the decision 4 years ago to quit her 9 to 5 job to pursue a full-time life as a singer-songwriter. Having only returned to her birthplace of Ottawa just over a year ago, she has already been making waves with her debut album, The Kid The Wall & The Box (May 2017), along with a non-stop schedule of performances at numerous venues, festivals, and even cruise ships. Sunstrum talks to Apt613 about the meaning behind the album’s title:
“I know the title seems cryptic and curious, but it’s actually just the titles of three of the songs on the album. It does have a deeper sentiment where the rest of the songs do relate to the title. The Kid is a song I just released a music video for that reflects the idea of losing our sense of play when we grow up. It speaks to my 4-year-ago self when I was stuck in the 9 to 5 routine. Actually it was right after I left that job when I wrote that song. The Wall was about feeling abandoned and hitting a road block. I was devastated but I had to crawl out of it on my own. The Box is about our own 3-dimensional boxes that we put ourselves in or somebody puts us in, whether it’s a relationship, an identity, or it’s a sexual orientation, etc.”
The album’s 8 tracks are a diverse collection of beautifully crafted songs, each completely different, and each offering an emotionally stimulating showcase of instrumental and vocal intensities, varying rhythms, and poignant lyrics. Completely self-produced, I’m impressed by the music’s rooted organic quality, tastefully enhanced with gentle touches of synth. The album’s first track, Wondering, a gorgeous love song wrapped in a slow waltz, immediately reels you in with Sunstrum’s pure vocals that climb and descend throughout. Similarly in My Stupid Heart, come more of those emotionally arresting lyrics and vocals that bring to mind other soulful female troubadours like Tracy Chapman. I love the hip-hop flavour of The Kid, filled with cool changes surrounding a stark rhythm that aptly sounds like a bouncing ball. A simple yet stirring combination of vocals and piano are forefronted in The Wall, while the remaining title track, The Box, presents a wonderful symphonic blend of multi-tracked vocals, plucked guitar chords, and violin.
In 2004, Sunstrum took a drastic turn from her university studies in Sociology and Womens Studies after her discovery of singing, guitar playing, songwriting, and networking with other musicians eventually prompted a shift to taking sound engineering courses in Montreal. Now being back in Ottawa, Kimberly talks about the wealth of support in the music scene here, and what‘s on the horizon:
“I was a bit of a late bloomer on the music front. Back in university, I met a bunch of wonderful Ottawa musicians that got me started into playing guitar. It wasn’t until I was encouraged onto open mic stages that I began to see myself as a serious musician. When I came back to Ottawa last year, I found it more convenient to do the solo thing for a bit, build some traction, and figure out my stride in the music scene here, which is so arms-wide-open. I’ve started working with some musicians here and begun working on building a band formation. I’m working now on my next album, which I’m hoping to release by May next year. One of the songs that will be on it, The Lullaby, I submitted a live version of to the CBC Searchlight Competition and received a lot of great support.”
Kimberly Sunstrum will be appearing with her full band at the Capital Pride Grey Cup Party on Thursday November 23 from 7pm-1am inside the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne. Please visit www.greycupfestival105.ca for more details. For more info on the artist, or to purchase her album, “The Kid The Wall & The Box”, please visit www.kimberlysunstrum.com.