PASO ROBLES — Combine a healthy dose of 1960s chamber pop with the structure and intonation of bossa nova and you will have discovered singer/songwriter Kendra McKinley. McKinley will debut songs from her new album "Treat" at Sculpterra Winery at the Songwriters at Play Sunday showcase from 1 to 4 p.m., May 14.
"Treat" features a rotating group of musicians including her older brother AJ McKinley and a group of background vocalists to round out its fat sound. The album is mixed by recording engineer Andy Freeman in the style of the late Phil Specter and his "Wall of Sound" method of production. Though McKinley's sound is rooted in classical genres, it's original and in no way derivative.
Special guests Kelly Parsons and Miss Leo will join McKinley at Sculptera, a trio that will bring the house down with their individual performances and the ferocity and clarity of their vocals.
In an interview with the Paso Robles Press and Atascadero News, McKinley explained how her travels after college influenced the creation of this latest album and her transition from a solo artist to working with a full band.
PRP/ATN: Can you tell me how traveling as a troubadour in Europe influenced your sound from one album to the next?
MCKINLEY: I have always enjoyed travel and how it influences the story and sound of a composition I am working on. I found that carrying my guitar with me when I was traveling as a troubadour around Europe, that people were intrigued by what I was doing. They would ask me where I was from and about my music. A conversation would strike up and they would share their stories with me. The vivid and colorful experiences that travel provided really allowed me to grow as an artist in so many ways. There is definitely a noticeable difference between my first album, "Chestnut Street," that I recorded while attending UC Santa Cruz and my latest album, "Treat," that was recorded after I returned to San Francisco from my travels.
The first album is a solo album with me singing and playing guitar on the tracks. It fits into the jazz/bossa nova genres and was the first time I recorded my work. With the new album I was able to get into a real studio with my brother and some band mates to record the full band sound inspired by my travels, 60s rock, jazz, and bossa nova influences.
PRP/ATN: When recording the new album did you have a vision of what you wanted the end result to be?
MCKINLEY: All the answers came to me in the process of recording. This was my first experience in a recoding studio in major production. We did have a set list of songs going in and started with the two more upbeat pop type songs then built off of them to create the album. I wrote all the songs myself and I feel the album pays homage to the Beatles' "Revolver," creating an eclectic mix of songs that don't really fit into any of the major genres per say, but tell a story through the lyric, varied instrumentation and styles. I pay great attention to intonation as I started out singing bossa nova it is very important from my perspective. We filled out the sound with background vocals and it really came together.
PRP/ATN: Do you plan to transition into working with a full band on a regular basis or will you incorporate the solo act you are known for as well?
MCKINLEY: At this point I am alternating between solo work and working with the band and after the experience creating, "Treat," my mind has been changed by that full band sound. I know now that that is the direction I will be heading in the future. I am very pleased with the reception this new album has received. It was really amazing when they started to play the song "Fine as a Vine" at AT&T Ball Park this year. I feel like the sky is the limit.
For more information on McKinley, her new album and her upcoming shows, visit www.kendramckinley.com.
Check out the video below to see McKinley perform her song "Honey" from her upcoming album "Treat":