Singer-songwriter Karen Atkins has a new album in which even the recording frequency is designed to make listeners feel good. “In My Room” sounds earnest and thoughtful as a result of its lyrical content and Atkins’ delivery. In addition, the instrumentation uses some classic alternative pop styles that might sound familiar to some listeners.
About Karen Atkins
New York-native Karen Atkins developed a following for her brand of performing. As a singer, songwriter and guitar player, Atkins kept up a rigorous schedule of playing gigs. This is how audiences first got to know her in the mid-1990s. But it wasn’t just fans in venues who appreciated what Atkins did. Her songs have been featured in films in the late 1990s, including “Boys” starring Winona Ryder. In 1998, Atkins won a prize in The John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her single, “On the Way Down.”
Health concerns forced Atkins to stop touring. She then developed a career in alternative medicine. She worked in the field for 15 years, and toured the world. In 2011, Atkins re-located to San Francisco, California.
It was in California that Atkins decided to return to creative processes that led her back to music. But she wasn’t just playing instruments and singing. Instead, Atkins experimented with the effects different frequencies had on the music-making process. Her song, “You’re My Home,” from her album, “The Vibration Project” was awarded Most Positive Video in 2012 by the Posi Music Awards.
Karen Atkins in 2017
Five years later, Atkins is back with “In My Room.” The overall soundscape reminds listeners of earnest, heartfelt alternative songs. Think Juliana Hatfield Three vocals meets the guitar and bass work of The Smiths, and you come close to approximating what Atkins and her ensemble accomplish on the recording.
For example, when “Love is Love” begins, listeners are struck by the clarity and the lack of strident noise that can make its way into even the best songs. The “round” aspect of the instrumentation makes the soundscape feel complete. The sound quality makes it seems as if there is nothing between the singer and the listener and results in audiences feeling awash in beauty.
The nine songs on “In My Room” display what can almost be called a classic Atkins’ touch. The standout tracks on the release are “Love is Love,” “By Your Side,” and ” In My Room.” The songs are designed to be linked through their vocal harmonies, guitar work and arrangements. The goal is to make people pause and listen. Atkins imparts wisdom and invites listeners on a journey.
Further, even the frequency used was designed to make the music have a rounder sound, a more harmonious vibration. The A=432 Hz tuning is said to be more aligned with nature, and that is what Atkins and her ensemble used.
With the specific use of A=432 Hz tuning, it should come as no surprise that Atkins’ tour for “In My Room” is called “Frequency Experiment Tour.” Audiences will get to hear the music and then report how they felt before and after.
Atkins’ approach to music-making is both up-to-the-minute and traditionally alternative pop. Her willingness to touch and heal people with her music takes her beyond reaching fans through an app, or some other tech means. By using a frequency that is supposed to be aligned with nature, Atkins takes a scientific approach to making music that is comfortable to hear. By imbuing it with honest and vulnerable language, she ensures that the work remains art, and not merely an experiment.