Nashville, Tenn.,-based singer-songwriter Katie Herzig’s recent collab with remixer RAC, “We Belong,” seems to announce her arrival at an intended destination: “We belong to where we’re going,” she warbles over and over as the song kicks off. “But nothing seems real till you touch who you’re meant to be.” From her early days as a background singer to her current tour supporting her fifth solo album, the just-released “Walk Through Walls,” Herzig has built up a catalog of what she calls “different but really simple” pop music, the sounds she was meant to create.
While in college, the California native played guitar and sang with Boulder, Colo., folk-bluegrass band Newcomers Home. Her first solo album, 2004’s “Watch Them Fall,” featured a simple acoustic sound and clever lyrics, and put her in good company with other singing-songwriting ladies emerging at the time (Brandi Carlile, Ingrid Michaelson). Herzig’s music evolved on 2006’s “Weightless” and 2008’s “Apple Tree.” More bass and electric guitar showed up, the cello became integral to her sound, and the songs incorporated her voice more dynamically. “I’ve always made albums with whatever instruments I have access to,” Herzig says.
Her 2011 album “The Waking Sleep” was the culmination of more than a decade of writing, producing and touring. The opener, “Free My Mind,” was “just about me dealing with myself, just feeling like an oversensitive person,” Herzig says, and “Lost and Found” graced a trailer for last year’s “Saving Mr. Banks.” Like her music, her path into the mainstream has been slow and steady. “A lot of artists have a hit single,” Herzig says. “But there’s just this long list of random things I’ve done.” That includes playing Bonnaroo and SXSW, opening for Sara Bareilles and The Fray, and soundtracking TV ads for Carnival, Kate Spade, Dove Chocolate (download “Best Day of Your Life” right now) and Target. She’s second only to Michaelson for total number of tracks (11) featured on “Grey’s Anatomy.” “It’s pretty diverse,” Herzig says of her résumé, “and I’m grateful for that.”
Breaking Down ‘Walls’
The story of “Walk Through Walls” began when Herzig’s mother passed away just as Herzig set out on the road to promote “The Waking Sleep.” Before she could write another album, “It kind of had to be this emotional barrier that I had to attack,” she says. “[‘Walls’] is not a light album, for sure.” She explored using digital tools, and tried writing with an array of different instruments, “only to get to the end of this album and realize there’s almost no acoustic guitar on it,” she says. On “Frequencies,” for example, “I found these really great snares and kicks, and I love really muted drums a lot of the time,” Herzig says. “So I just laid that down, and then I grabbed my bass and figured out the main groove.” The album’s introspective closing songs, “Forgiveness” and “Proud,” seem to reflect the hurdles Herzig has overcome. “I gave myself a whole lot of time to create without a deadline,” she says. “I just needed it after that last season of touring and life. It was great. It was everything I needed.”
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