The Music of Kate Gaffney

 According to one of the songs on her new album, The Coachman,  songstress Kate Gaffney has “fallen for the road.”

I could stand here crying in the wind

Concern myself with everything I did

What will that do now for the greater good

The songs I sing they are my livelihood

and so I  pray good angel please touch down

Sweep me up on stage

Pray good angel hear my sounds

Whisk me far away

I’ve fallen for the road

For the road and what it knows

K.Gaffney, Fallen For The Road

The Philadelphia born and Sacramento based songwriter is on that road right now, touring across the country promoting her new album. The Coachman, released October 2008, is an exceptional recording of originals and masterfully chosen covers that showcase her sultry, contralto voice. She sings with a resonance and maturity beyond her years, and there is a hint of underlying restlessness that seeks and explores beyond boundaries and current experience. Her vocals are natural, evocative, and are equally potent in a belt or a whisper. You can slide her name alongside Joni Mitchell, or Susan Tedeschi, and both fit.

The Coachman is Gaffney’s second release, after her first self released EP, Highways. She considers herself bi-located between her Philadelphia roots and the California sun, where she credits musical inspiration by Sacramento son Jackie Greene.”I had always written prose,” says Gaffney, ” but It was an epiphany in 2003 when I realized I could actually sing my own songs, and when Jackie Green and Clifford Antone validated what I was doing, I knew this was it.”  She covers one of Greene’s tunes on the new album, The Ballad of Sleepy John, effectively so. Another cover-gem is the Woodie Guthrie song, “Philadelphia Lawyer”  which Gaffney shows her versatility by delivering a solid country lilt.

However, what may become Gaffney’s signature style is the sardonic twists she incorporates into her own lyrics, and the push pull of “I want you but go away” tone that resonates throughout most of her songs….

Eleven years have passed us by

I can’t lie, I still think of him

Wonder what he’s doing and where he has been

So I called him on up to see him again

Still he’s just this corporate whore

Sporting a suit evening the score

Playing the game laying his cards

I know he’s still the same boy who started

Kissing me, 

Begging me, 

Be my girl 

I said let’s give it a whirl

K.Gaffney, Give It A Whirl

Gaffney recently came through Austin, TX and performed at a few ‘unofficial’ SXSW showcases. I had a chance to see her at TeXchromosome ’09, and was struck by her clarity, charm and powerful performance. Her next stops were to open for Carolyn Wonderland and Terri Hendrix/ Lloyd Maines, and it’s my prediction that it won’t be long before they are opening for her.

For more information on Kate Gaffney, visit:

-Richard Diehn

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Richard Diehn hails from the hills of Northern West Virginia where he grew up as a member of his family’s traveling band. He’s a writer, storyteller, and petrologist (Rockhound). He enjoys fishing, kite flying with his daughter,  Gentleman Jack, and stalking his favorite country singer, George Jones. 

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