As a musician for 27 years, Bend's Pete Kartsounes has never really had to go through anything like the challenges COVID-19 has presented musicians this year. Even in this new territory, with most shows canceled, and touring being out of the question, Kartsounes rolled with the punches and adapted. He was one of the first Central Oregon musicians to begin live-streaming shows. He then moved his summer time songwriting retreat over to Zoom and decided to record a whole new album—by himself—in quarantine. Not too shabby for a vet in the game, huh?
The album, the first of two in a series, is titled, "Out Here On My Own, Vol. 1." The project holds 12 songs all produced and mastered by Kartosunes himself—many of which were first written during quarantine. This is also the first time that Kartsounes has worked on an album entirely solo from start to finish.
"For years I've been asked if I had any albums that were 'just me.' I love collaborating with other artists, but found that this was the perfect time for just that; just me, my harmonica and my guitar," he said in a release.
The title for the album itself is very representative of the times. While the whole world has had to deal with the impact of COVID-19, oftentimes, in isolation, it truly feels like you're by yourself in it all. Kartsounes' writing on the project is a deep reflection about what some of us may have been examining harder this year, which makes the album that much more relatable.
"Tomorrow Could Be Gone" is about stepping forward into the day as you wake up, because it's all we can promise ourselves at the moment. Growing relationships are navigated on "Air to Breathe" and "The Way That I Feel," while the album-closer, "Building Blocks and Stepping Stones," acknowledges the long roads we sometimes have to take in life to get where we need to be.
From its pretty guitar patterns to Kartsounes' rasp, "Out Here on My Own, Vol. 1" is a heartfelt reflection on love, life and the way we cope as we grow. Kartsounes reminds the listener that things are always worth pushing through and embracing the struggle. "Sometimes we have to lose it all to find out you're winning," he sings on "Just the Beginning."
Channeling all of this into a bluesy-folk record is a beautiful form of release for not only Kartsounes, but for those listening, as well. "Out Here on My Own" is the perfect way to slow things down and get some perspective back on life, no matter how crazy it gets. Just press play and take a breath.
Get the album on Bandcamp or find it for streaming on your preferred service.