More People Really Should Know About: Katie Powderly

Katie Powderly

Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Katie Powderly is an award winning songwriter whose recording career began well over a decade ago and who has shared bills with such luminaries of the Americana Music genre as Tony Rice, Del McCoury Band and The Steel Wheels. She also possesses one of the finest voices currently on the scene having been compared to such icons as Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Aiofe O’Donovan.

Powderly’s debut album ‘Slip Of The Tongue’, (2012), was recorded at Smart Studios, Madison, under the guidance of Mike Zirkel along with a stellar cast of musicians that included Josh Oliver (Mandolin Orange) and Bryn Davies (Guy Clark, Jack White), helping to deliver the energy of a full electric band with plenty of pedal steel and fiddle to create a kaleidoscopic sound for Powderly’s well crafted songs. The album was well received, being described as “a beautiful slice of alt-country folk music” and though initially available only on CD or vinyl, it finally became available to stream in 2022.

Through the following years Powderly toured extensively as well as hiring herself out as a bluegrass bass musician before finally settling in Maryland where she came into contact with the musicians who would eventually become the members of her band ‘The Unconditional Lovers’. As a band they toured around West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, building a strong reputation for their live shows while developing a powerful body of work ready to return to the studio. However the recording process proved to be much more challenging second time around with two separate attempts at two different studios failing to deliver the sound and feel Powderly was looking for. Looking back she admits that “we were still locking-in as a band and went through some lineup changes, but also I was dialing in our overall sound and the arrangements I wanted for the songs, and sometimes that takes time as well as trial and error.”

At the third attempt and under the watchful eye of Kenny Eaton at Mystery Ton Studios, everything finally fell into place with a finished recording that Powderly felt immensely proud of, all ready for a release date in 2020. Then the pandemic struck and all plans went out the proverbial window. The album’s release was put on hold, The Unconditional Lovers put on pause, and like so many self-employed musicians Powderly felt the full financial impact, being forced to move several times while her dreams seemed to slip further and further away.

The shoots of recovery started to emerge in early 2021 when Chance Hurley asked Powderly to join his hard driving Pennsylvania bluegrass band Dead Horse Revival, on bass and harmony vocals, playing numerous gigs and festivals and even performing on their EP entitled ‘All Hat No Saddle’. During this period she wrote the songs that would eventually become the EP ‘Live By The Song, Die By The Song’, though originally she had no intention of recording them. In fact it was only after another project fell through that, rather than losing the deposit on the studio time, Powderly decided to record those five songs, roping in Hurley and fellow Dead Horse Revival member Scott Matlock on fiddle along with bandmate from The Unconditional Lovers, Colin Shultzaberger on piano. The resulting EP, that was reviewed as part of AUK’s EP Round-Up last month was a wonderful slice of bluegrass, with its stripped down, intimate acoustic arrangement revealing a greater maturity and confidence in Powderly’s writing, with more depth to the narrative and a more defined identity in her delivery.

Now, with the news that the album recorded pre-pandemic with her band, ‘The Unconditional Lovers’, has finally received a scheduled release date for later this year, one can’t help but feel that Katie Powderly’s time has finally arrived, and that after all the hard work and setbacks she will soon be reaping the rewards her talent undoubtedly deserves. So, whether your preferred taste from the Americana larder leans towards the sound of alt-country, or maybe the timeless tradition of bluegrass, or simply the exquisite poetry of the singer-songwriter, Powderly has all bases covered.



About Graeme Tait 118 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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