Album Review: Love Has Made Me Stronger by Carol Kleyn
Very Good, Based on 3 Critics
Pitchfork - 78 Based on rating 7.8/10
The liner notes to this reissue of hippie harpist Carol Kleyn's 1976 debut would make a great period film, perhaps with Zoe Kazan in the lead. In prose that evokes a sense of discovery and excitement, Kleyn describes her introduction to the counterculture as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara, where she wrote songs for her poetry class before dropping out to concentrate on music full-time. Kleyn shacked up with one-man psychedelic band Bobby Brown, who brought her a harp for her birthday one year.
Carol Kleyn's 1976 album Love Has Made Me Stronger was the first of three self-released albums by this West Coast harpist, pianist, and songwriter of no renown to the general populace (except to street corner and Renaissance fair audiences), but who played some dates on Gregg Allman's Laid Back solo tour, and made the acquaintance of Irving Azoff, Joni Mitchell, Phil Spector, and even Liza Minnelli, but failed to secure a record deal and therefore issued her albums herself. (Before recording, she served as the soundwoman for Bobby Brown of "One Man Orchestra" fame. ) Kleyn's music is very much of its time, the late hippie era; the album's title is reflected perfectly in her songs and wonderfully clear soprano voice with abundant natural vibrato that rings true as it swoops and soars.
Love Has Made Me Stronger is the latest in a growing series of reissues over at Drag City, where the label has now made a habit of unearthing outlying musical gems, often documents of a particular time and place, though their sound—particularly in outstanding works like Gary Higgins’ Red Hash from 1973—often still resonates in meaningful ways. The growing list of artists Drag City has resurrected is compelling and varied, though few are as striking as Carol Kleyn upon first listen. Kleyn’s story feels, at first, like a familiar one.