Now Playing: Libby Koch’s ‘Redemption 10: Live At Blue Rock’

Image courtesy of Libby Koch

Libby Koch has just completed a new compilation album. It’s titled Redemption 10: Live At Blue Rock and drops on October 18th. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.

Libby Koch

Image courtesy of Libby Koch

According to her official website, Koch reportedly began writing songs in junior high school. It would not be until she started law school at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, that she felt “she could hold her own in a city full of heavyweight talents.” it would not be until she began working in a Houston law firm, however, that she became “convinced her music, not law, was her true calling.”

She recorded the original self-released Redemption, a decade ago, while still working as an attorney. Koch thought that was the end of it but the record sold, “one thing led to another” and she was building a music career.

She began playing more live gigs and ten years later she is celebrating her music career with this upcoming live “reimagining” of her original solo recording.

Koch discussed this while speaking of what inspired this upcoming CD:
“Ten years ago, when I recorded Redemption, I was a young attorney at a big law firm in Houston. At the time, I thought this was probably the only record I would ever make, and I certainly didn’t anticipate I would ever have a career in music. Once I self-released the album and started playing shows and selling copies of the CD in Houston, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was building a career in music!

Ten years later, I’ve put out a few more records (Redemption 10 will be the sixth), and I’ve played hundreds of shows across the US and Europe. It’s been an incredible adventure, and I’m most thankful for all the great friendships I’ve made with musicians and music lovers across the globe. Revisiting my first album feels like a fun and fitting celebration of the music and memories I’ve made over the past decade.”

Currently based in Austin, her rockin’ resume includes her previous platter 2016’s first-round Grammy ballot nominated Just Move On and a few other audio offerings including a collaborative album as part of an all-gal group titled The eponymous Grievous Angels and her 2008 Barn Burner EP.

Signature sound

Known as a “Texas Americana singer-songwriter,” Koch’s signature sound is a mix of music genres including Americana, bluegrass, country, folk, gospel (and on this disc, even a trace of rock ‘n’ roll). She is inspired by the likes of Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. As it says on her website, she writes “true cryin’ and leavin’ country songs.”

Redemption 10: Live At Blue Rock

Redemption 10: Live At Blue Rock is her sixth release. Recorded in front of a live studio audience, this is a full-length band-backed reimagining of the first full-length, “stripped down” acoustic album. It features Koch on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. She is backed by a band that includes co-producer Patterson Barrett (piano, organ, pedal steel, mandolin, and harmony vocals), Bill Browder (lead guitar and harmony vocals), Eddie Cantu (drums), Javier Chaparro (violin), and Glenn Schuetz (upright and electric bass).

Track by track

The 10-track disc opens on “Houston.” This seems an apt album opener considering Koch was born here. It’s about moving out (of perhaps both a relationship and a city) and moving on with her life. In a recent email, Koch confirms these impressions adding: “I wrote this song the day after I graduated from law school in Nashville.

The movers had come and gone, and the house was empty. I was leaving for my new job and new life in Houston the following morning, but before I left, this song had to be written. At the time, I thought I was saying goodbye to a guy, but upon reflection, I now see that I was closing one chapter and starting another.”

The second selection is the first single off the album “Just The Way.” This song is about the uncertainty of being single and the sometimes “cyclical” aspect of serious dating. With the full band backing, it makes a nice traveling song.

The next number is “Can’t Complain.” This is one of those “born-of-a-failed-relationship songs. Indeed, Koch admits that “[w]riting this song was an attempt to gain a little perspective after a breakup and remind myself that, at the end of the day, I was going to be okay.”

It has a familiar sound to it both musically and lyrically, too. It has a message of perseverance in it as well. “In true Texas style, I was raised to dust myself off and get back on the horse after you fall out of the saddle, and this song is part of that tradition.”

It’s followed by “Stay With Me.” Not to be confused with the 1971 Faces song made famous by Rod Stewart’s vocals, this like almost all of the other songs here, is an original composition. Some might consider it a little sad but it’s just a musical expression of one of life’s all too common experiences.

“Redemption” is the titular track. Apparently, it has aged well. In fact, it probably has more meaning now than it did a decade ago. Koch confirms this: “This is one of the songs that has grown in meaning and depth for me, as it was written for someone who I now know never really loved me back. Now I sing it for someone who really deserves these words.”

“How Long” is one of the singles off the album. Koch includes a spiritual theme here among songs about love and relationships. It appears to be lyrically based on material from The Bible.

Koch says: “I based this song on the text of Psalm 40, with lines of each verse and the chorus tracking the Psalm: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a slimy pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Mind you, it is not the least bit preachy, folks. On the contrary, it is perhaps one of the best bits here.

“Down” keeps things moving. It’s got a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll feel to it too. It’s a nice little surprise for sure. Koch commented:

“This is probably the song that changed the most from the original version. I always heard this song in my head as a honky-tonk number, but Patterson said ‘what if we make it a rocker?’ Once the band kicked into gear on this groove it was clear that it was meant to be. We had THE most fun with this song!”

“Don’t Give Up On Me” keeps the fun going. It is one of those songs that while containing spiritual elements could still be a song about something else. Koch explains why the song has that feel:

“This is a spiritual song that I wrote in high school. I got my start playing guitar in my church’s youth group and the Young Life band, so a lot of my early songs were written from a spiritual angle. At such a young age it was easier for me to write those spiritual songs than it was to write something personal about someone else…I was so afraid people would figure out the songs were about them!”

“Ready Now” a final example of just what Koch can do as a songwriter. It’s another number that was born long ago yet now has a new meaning to it. Like a few of her other songs, it works on multiple levels.

The closing cut is titled “I Still Miss Someone.” This on is Koch’s cover of the Johnny Cash cut. Right off the bat, her feminine vocals add something here. Additionally, a cover on an album full of original, indie songs works to provide a sense of familiarity and the specific choice of covers also indicates something about the artist as well.

Koch explains: “ I decided to close the album with one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, ‘I Still Miss Someone.’ The original Redemption version was just me, my harmonica, and my guitar…a really intimate version of the song. This live version ended up being a little more lively and faster than we anticipated, but I think we were all having such a great time and in a nice groove that it turned out the way it did. I love both versions . . .”

Overall, the album is an effective, interesting reimagined, full-band flashback that sounds as if it was fun for Koch to record. No doubt some of this material is something she truly hasn’t worked on much in the past decade and thus the songs reflect potential changes in her overall presentation. Additionally, the songs here have been fleshed out with a full backing band.

So while these songs are obviously not newly-written and no longer played solo, they still maintain a sense of honesty and intimacy in the actual tuneful telling of the individual stories and oft’times even take on a new meaning and feel. They are generally clever and often earthy cuts that make it clear that Koch knows it’s OK to sometimes feel bad and that misery enjoys company. . . especially if you can learn something from it and dance a little too.

Koch concludes that she is “so happy with how this entire project turned out.” So check out Libby Koch’s Redemption 10: Live At Blue Rock and experience “Redemption.”