Shoreworld: Kristy Chmura – Stained, Glass Heart

Kristy Chmura combines indie, folk-pop, and alternative influences to create emotionally driven music that has captivated many listeners spanning generations. Kristy’s voice has its own original qualities, but listeners have compared her voice to popular recording artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and Amy Lee of Evanescence. Kristy’s newest release, Stained, Glass Heart, features eight original tracks written, produced, and performed by Kristy, along with co-producer Damien Musto. Kristy’s musical influences span across a wide variety of genres and artists which contribute to her eclectic style of songwriting.

Kristy Chmura is a full-time professional, freelance harpist, vocalist, and songwriter, performing at many weddings, events, concerts, hospitals, recitals and more. Classically trained, Kristy has been playing and studying the harp for over 20 years. Kristy began studying the harp with Merynda Adams and continues to study with André Tarantiles. Kristy earned a Bachelor’s of Music in harp performance from The College of New Jersey and had also earned credits towards her Masters of Music Performance from Montclair State University at the John J. Cali School of Music.

I’ve reviewed projects with Kristy in the past when she was with the group she founded called Double Breasted. I had written about the band and their EP, Suit Yourself, back in 2011. I found their sound to be original and highly addictive. Utilizing drums, cello, and harp, the trio was an impressive offering to the East Coast music scene. But now Kristy is focusing her efforts on new sounds and journeys that go beyond that intuitive direction.

Her bio tells it best. “Stained, Glass Heart is an introspective compilation of songs displaying Kristy’s sensitivity, and the daily emotional battles that go on within her soul. Kristy is not afraid to give the listener a look into her own personal experiences which she carefully wraps up with sonic textures featuring her voice and harp, along with ambient guitars, and a solid rhythm section. Each song represents the ability to pick up the pieces and continue to live on with a fractured spirit. The opening track, ‘Nothing’s Right’ hits you with the emotional intensity one feels when you are lost within your own complex. ‘Wake Up’ laments over the darkness that exists within our society, and is a call to action to reflect upon what has happened to humanity. ‘Deep Waters,’ tells the story of betrayal, and being dragged into someone else’s drama. ‘Abandoned House’ is a powerful ballad about leaving lost love, and letting go. Words that have been used to describe Kristy’s musical qualities are: mesmerizing, soothing, haunting, and beautiful; a real artist.”

Kristy sent me her music, and I wanted to take a listen and see what makes up the mind of an artist that offers something different than the usual offerings.

The first song up on Stained, Glass Heart is “Nothing’s Right.” Right away I notice the fire and passion in Kristy’s vocal attack. Very much like I remember about her in the past, I hear the years of practice and dedication to the craft. Tackling the subject of abandonment, Kristy digs deep, bringing up emotive passages and lyrical magic as she mingles harp with traditional backing tracks of bass, guitar, and drums. Her vocal power is impressive and commands the attention of the listener immediately. The compositional aspect of the song is also impressive. Verses run smoothly into bridges and addictive choruses. Even the middle-eight is a killer, and the production is stellar. Kristy produced and played everything with the help of co-producer Damien Musto. This song is a fantastic single.

“Wake Up” is next. Kristy takes on the bullies of the universe on “Wake Up.” Based on the premise that we’re all doing more harm than good to each other and the world, Kristy lays out a soulful and melodic ode to our spinning planet. Her mix of harp, bass, drums and stratospheric ambiance work together to back her message of unwarranted survival. Once again, Kristy has a voice that appeals to everyone from rock to jazz. Powerful and toned for days, she delivers her message of global destruction with an effortless style and feel. I love the arrangement and the instrumentation. Nothing is unnecessary, and each sound complements the song. This is a favorite of mine, and I think radio will love it as well.

“Deep Waters” sounds its arrival with Kristy’s divine voice next. Kristy brings in an air of jazz-tinged blues on this one. Drums and bass lay the groundwork as Kristy croons to the listener. Exploration of offering help to a friend and the rejection of said offer command the lyrical attack as Kristy and company twist and turn through compositional conundrums. Once again Kristy shows her expertise when it comes to songwriting and arrangement. Her harp work is both original and melodic in contrast. Organs whirl in the background as guitars sink into the mix and elevate vocals to an entirely different pinnacle. Her tempo and timing are also fascinating on this piece and allows the song to breathe on its own distinct merit.

“Better” takes the airwaves next. Harp spider web walks down the piece as Kristy delivers smooth and toned vocals. Percussion joins backing vocal choruses as Kristy continues her journey of musical experimentation and meaning of her song. Kristy’s harp work always reminds me of pristine guitar work in its delivery. She plucks and strums to match her training and skill. Her lyrical journey explores the possibilities of just being yourself. The ending features flourishes of harp as Kristy finishes her theme. Fantastic song!

“Over” features Kristy pinching out chords and lines on harp with the most captivating of styles. Vocally speaking, she reminds me of Amy Lee here. Her combination of vocal prowess and skill at compositional design shine brightly on “Over.” High plucked harp notes mix with drums, bass, and cellos as Kristy drives her point home. A stunning arrangement and a perfect natural decay in the end.

Another excellent song that I wanted to mention is called “Abandoned House.”  Once again, Kristy’s harp work takes center stage as she winds into her lyrical delivery. Leaving lost love and letting go of the past take center stage here. The mix of harp, bass, drums, and the guitar is a perfect complement to her vocal work here and throughout. Electric guitars tear into the middle-eight as Kristy sings of loss and love gone wrong. I love her imagery on this record. She readily admits that this is something too large to fix on her own. She isn’t obvious, but she isn’t so obscure as to leave you wondering what she’s singing about which I love.

One last song is “Are You For Real.” The off-kilter intro bounces into play as Kristy starts singing of the one who she thought might turn out right instead of the self-centered narcissist that they actually are. Drums, bass and guitar balance behind Kristy’s harp work. This is a quirky, poppy, Kate Bush-styled tune that should get great reception on radio. The middle changes tempo and focuses as Kristy and company jump into a fast-paced gallop. Kristy warns the subject to stay away from her heart, soul and physical being as the band ramps up behind her.

There was one song I didn’t get to due to space but Stained, Glass Heart is a fascinating look into the world of one of the area’s most exciting songwriters and players. Kristy Chmura and Damien Musto have done a fantastic job with this disc, and I know it’s going to garner tons of attention. Kristy is a talented songwriter with lots to say and the means to back up her musical statements. I honestly can’t wait to see her live as I know it will be a treat for the eyes and ears of her followers. The record will be available on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. For more information on Kristy Chmura and her new record, Stained, Glass Heart, head over to her site and grab the record for yourselves.