Jazz chanteuse Katherine Penfold takes you on a romantic journey in her supple and soulful new single Far Away.
Underscored by fluttering keys and dreamy production from Moonchild’s Amber Navran, the seductive track from the Vancouver vocalist’s debut album Sweetest Thing details “the heartache of a long-distance relationship.”
It might not be the kind of sound you expect to hear coming from the tattooed tomboy with a lifelong affinity for motorcycles, skateboarding, or woodworking. But listening to her music elicits a different impression altogether as a sultry, smooth, and sweet delivery belies the rustic badassery she exudes with ease. This gorgeous contrast illuminates Sweetest Thing, released by Justin Time / Nettwerk.
“Sweetest Thing is a juxtaposition,” she affirms. “I have lots of tattoos and like motorcycles, but all of my music is about love and joy. When you see those extremes side-by-side, it really hones in on how I feel about myself and who I am. I had a cool and quirky upbringing that didn’t really fall into pigeonholes. Everything comes down to heart and soul for me, especially music.”
Born in Nova Scotia and raised “on a farm in the middle of nowhere Manitoba without television,” the singer and songwriter always gravitated towards music. Powerhouse vocalists such as Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown immediately resonated on a deeper level. Pursuing her passion, she went on to study classical piano and jazz at Manitoba’s Brandon University. In addition to winning the Groove FM singer/songwriter competition, she spent the next few years sharpening her chops and performing alongside the likes of Hugh Laurie, Jeff Lorber, Brad Turner, and Jodi Proznick in addition to selling out headline shows.
Between independent releases, she moved to England. A 2017 invite to sing at a wedding in Vancouver proved life-changing as the wedding planner filmed the performance and shared it with Nettwerk who reached out to sign Katherine shortly after via their jazz label partnership with Montreal’s Justin Time Records.
“It’s never the moment you think would change your life that actually does,” she smiles. “It’s crazy how it happened when I think back on it!”
Following her holiday album Keep Christmas With You, Katherine dove into writing and recording what would become Sweetest Thing. Hitting the studio with co-producer David Sikula, she tapped into those formative inspirations and unlocked a spirited style of her own.
“I really sat down and wrote the songs I knew were sitting there in me the whole time,” she explains. “Soul, funk, and R&B have hit me so hard for as long as I can remember. There’s a story to every song and a really powerful vibe.
“I really wanted to make an album full of songs that could resonate with you no matter what you’re going through,” she leaves off. “I’d love for people to find a space for themselves to feel inside of what I’m doing. I hope they know someone is listening to them and hearing them.”