'Ashes', the second CD release from Jen Kraatz is a validation of her unique sound and presence. Five years have passed since her first disc,'Trudge', but that is not to say this disc was five years in the making. A second disc was at one point on it's way to the studio when Kraatz had a feeling that it was not truly time for the project. Back to the guitar she went and set into a whole new crop of tunes that have become 'Ashes.' The title track along with, 'Rockin' Horse', and 'Nearly Grown', are some of the favorites from live performances included on the disc. A quiet perfectionist, Jen Kraatz is not the sort to draw a lot of attention to her own work. Several months will often pass with little heard from her and then out of nowhere she appears again with a handful of new material. Each return to the spotlight becomes an event eagerly awaited and entirely satisfying. With cause to record a single tune for a project, Kraatz put together a sparse version of a song called, 'Tracks.' Jen sent a copy to Alberta radio station CKUA. Just a home burned copy of the loan song, the tune quickly became a favorite amongst the DJs. 'Tracks' is of course included on the new CD. Lyrically Kraatz is akin to the likes of Julie Miller or perhaps Victoria Williams. A keen blend of prose and poetry tells simple stories in ways that encourage a listen. Vocally the mix is the sweet part of Emmylou and the edgy part of Iris Dement. There is a long tradition of strong women in the realm of music that Jen inhabits. She is poised to carry on that tradition. 'Ashes' has come together rather like a sequel to 'Trudge'. Much of the ensemble cast of the first disc, released in 1998, are back for more and most have the maturity of several projects together under their collective belt. Scott Franchuck at Riverdale Recorders has produced Kraatz since the days of the basement tapes. Shuyler Jansen (guitar), since the release of 'Trudge', has grown immensely as a musician and songwriter within the renowned Alberta group, Old Reliable. Franchuck is the producer of Old Reliable's three releases. Paul 'Duke' Paetz is a veteran of the local and national alternative scene having played a pivotal role in such bands as, Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, Jr. Gone Wild, The Almost Leather Band and as a session drummer and vocalist. Franchuck was the producer of The Almost Leather Band's release. New to the cast by fortune of a visit to Edmonton in the Fall of 2002 is the smooth and powerful bass player from Austin TX, Andrew Duplantis, whose time is spent between his duties with Alejandro Escovedo and his own group Sin Pelo. A vetran of clubs, coffee shops and festivals, Jen Kraatz is a dedicated lifer in the music business. If the road is the home of the songwriter, with 'Ashes' in hand Jen Kraatz will soon be headed home. --- ************ THE BRISTOL AGENCY 30 - 10625 117 St Edmonton AB T5H 3N2 780 482 2552.