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Kate Isenberg | The Time Comes on Humming Tracks

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Joni Mitchell Shawn Colvin Suzanne Vega

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Official artist website Be a friend of Kate's on MySpace Online press kit (EPK) Tradebit MusicIsHere PayPlay Apple iTunes GreatIndieMusic

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United States - California - LA

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Folk: Folk Pop Folk: like Joni Moods: Type: Acoustic
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The Time Comes on Humming Tracks

by Kate Isenberg

Acoustic folk-pop with lyrics you want to hold right up to your ear, plus sparkling guitar, sweet vocals and harmonies, salty drums, bass, violin, mandolin, harmonica, piano, and a slide-flute cherry on top.
Genre: Folk: Folk Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Streetcar to Grace
4:04 $0.99
2. Fireflies
3:57 $0.99
3. Simple
2:52 $0.99
4. James
4:04 $0.99
5. Celia
3:53 $0.99
6. Long Winter
3:34 $0.99
7. She Knows
3:12 $0.99
8. The Ghost Named Virtue
4:20 $0.99
9. Coming Home
3:39 $0.99
10. Don't Misunderstand
3:44 $0.99
11. Celia (reprise)
1:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Finalist, Best Female Singer-Songwriter Album of 2007" —Indie Acoustic Project

"Best Unknown Folk Artist" —About.com

"* * * * *" [Five stars, highest rating] —All Music Guide

"Infectious...impeccable songwriting." —Performer magazine

"Exquisite production...fresh, sparkling voice and intricate guitar arrangements." —Curve magazine

"What the Editors Are Spinning: Kate Isenberg's THE TIME COMES ON HUMMING TRACKS" —Acoustic Guitar magazine

"Feel like a good story? Bay Area native Kate Isenberg proves that the form is alive and well on The Time Comes on Humming Tracks. Isenberg's affecting collection of acoustic vignettes deals primarily with reminiscences and regrets, and she tells them with alluring imagery and a charming, plainspoken delivery similar to Suzanne Vega's. "Time's a fearless foe with whom to play a childish chicken game," Isenberg observes over warm currents of mandolin on the gently rolling opener, "Streetcar to Grace"; it's a theme she revisits with intriguing detail throughout the CD, on departed-friend tribute "Celia" and the radiant "Coming Home," a nostalgic meditation that pulses and sparks with the intricate interplay of guitar, violin, train-track percussion, and multitracked vocals. A soft-spoken marvel of a recording." —San Francisco Bay Guardian

"[In The Time Comes On Humming Tracks,] San Francisco singer/songwriter Kate Isenberg has crafted a 10 song CD of urban folk, straddling the fence of Americana, Blue Grass and sophisticated acoustic pop, but without any tongue in cheek irony; just solid songwriting and traditional instrumentation from this multi-instrumentalist, engineer, producer and artist. Talk about putting your blood sweat and tears into your work, Isenberg plays acoustic guitar, violin, mandolin, piano, banjo and slide whistle. She supplements the rest of the music with guest collaborators on bass, harmonica, drums. These songs take on introspective subject matter and moods, but without alienating the listener with overly dramatic first person stories, but accounts of life real life, whether it be in the big city or out in the sticks. Isenberg’s lyrics are personal but without mining the adolescent dear diary industrial complex, more along the line of going for a long walk to work it all out—life, relationship (both good and bad), strangers and the artists search for a place to call home. In a recent radio interview, Isenberg, a former editor for a political magazine based in Washington DC, said she was in DC on September 11th, and that as soon as she could, she hopped a train headed for San Francisco. On her CD cover is a streetcar, the “K Outbound” traveling over rolling green hills with a pastel silhouette San Francisco in the background. Well, why not. It could happen." —DJ Nylon, Bay Area's Pirate Cat Radio (July 20, 2007)

"If you like your pop music dulcet, pretty and downright easy on the ears, Isenberg's spartan voice and guitar numbers are so for you! Charming!" —Aquarius Records, San Francisco

"Remember that part in 'Broadcast News' when one of the network dudes is watching Holly Hunter work, and he goes, 'I had no idea she was this good!'? That's what it was like when I first heard singer-songwriter Kate Isenberg play. I mean, I knew she was good. My other coworkers had told me as much (full disclosure: Kate and I work together at our stinky corporate day job). But I was still unprepared for her awesomeness. I snatched up a copy of THE TIME COMES ON HUMMING TRACKS, her third album, and it promptly took up residence on repeat in my CD player for a month, after which I switched to listening to it only about once a day. Her arrangements are simple yet rich, incorporating regular ol' guitars but also mandolin, banjo, violin, and a slide whistle; her lyrics are clever, wide-ranging ('The Odyssey,' Buddhist teachings, and riding San Francisco's Muni system all make appearances), and kinda heartwrenching. One time through and you'll think you've chosen your favorite tracks, but the next time you listen, every other one will make you stop and go, 'No, this one's my favorite.'" —Lisa Jervis, founder, Bitch magazine

"The lyrics of the ten tracks on this CD hold in perfect balance this moment between winter and spring. They tacitly acknowledge that life is filled with winters … that there are difficulties in relationships, that there are complications within each of us, that there will sometimes be a chill in the air. But they flow along with the knowledge that there is spring beyond every winter, that there is possibility within people and their relationships, that there will always be warm cups of tea to ward away the cold.... If Kate’s music is the feeling of warm tea enjoyed on a late winter day, her voice is the honey which laces that tea. It is the light sweetness that stands out amidst the smoky depths of her lyrics and her instrumentals. Those instrumentals are like the strong herbs of the drink. The Time Comes on Humming Tracks is filled with a number of different sounds – piano, mandolin, banjo. This is not a tea that has been watered down. But through these rich intricacies, Kate’s voice brings sweetness. You may drink the tea for the warmth, but you enjoy it for the honey."
—San Francisco Voice

Recently debuted on the Bay Area’s KFOG radio and selected by About.com as a Best Unknown Folk Artist, Kate Isenberg is gathering a buzz that promises wide renown for the San Francisco-based singer-songwriter. Kate’s folk-pop songs evoke the soulful vocals of Suzanne Vega and the infectious riff-hooks of John Mayer, with lyrics in the tradition of Joni Mitchell’s: subtle storytelling, with insight and humor as dual themes. Already well respected in the Bay Area’s songwriting scene, Kate stepped onto a larger stage with her second CD, THE TIME COMES ON HUMMING TRACKS, which was recently announced as a finalist for Best Female Singer-Songwriter Album of 2007 by the Indie Acoustic Project (a contest whose past winners include Vienna Teng, Allison Krauss, and Greg Brown). Chronicling the pitfalls and transcendence of city life and love, the record moves smoothly from loss to laughter like a streetcar gliding through San Francisco’s hilly neighborhoods. National magazines have taken notice of its "impeccable songwriting" (—Performer) and "exquisite production" (—Curve). Meanwhile, fans are crowding top Bay Area clubs for the dynamic pop of Kate’s three-piece band, and for the vocal intimacy and guitar prowess of her solo performances.

As the vibration of rails signals an oncoming train, the buzz around THE TIME COMES ON HUMMING TRACKS announces a powerful arrival. More than just a girl with a guitar—or even a female guitarist who outplays many a male peer—Kate is a multi-instrumentalist and producer. She arranged and recorded the tracks for THE TIME COMES herself in her San Francisco home. Then, to mix the album, she chose Jon Evans, who drew on his work as bassist for Tori Amos and studio collaborator for several Grammy-nominated jazz composers to give the CD an atmospheric depth worthy of a prime-time audience. Listeners of KFOG’s Acoustic Sunrise program, drawn in by the driving drums, bass, and mandolin of the CD’s anthemic opener "Streetcar to Grace," have discovered deeper cuts, such as the sparkly acoustic guitars and wistful poetry of "James" or the mournful, waltzing violin, banjo, and piano of "Long Winter." In live shows, Kate’s veteran rhythm section (Aaron Brinkerhoff, drums; Fergus D. Lenehan, bass) brings the songs to life with professionalism and humor.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Kate began studying classical violin at age eight. In her teens, she discovered the lyrically smart, melodic pop compositions of Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, the Police, and the Indigo Girls. In college at Harvard, while studying English and American literature, Kate taught herself guitar and began writing fiction, journalism, and memoir. Words and music came together after college, when she played top listening rooms on both U.S. coasts as part of the acoustic duo Vice Versa. By constantly reinventing her guitar approach with alternate tunings and riffs as percussive as they are melodic, Kate has developed a guitar style that can tell a story as eloquently as her keenly observed, literate lyrics. Her debut solo album, CADUCOUS (2002), won accolades when its single, "No Need," was chosen for a compilation CD featuring top songwriters in the U.S., including Indigo Girl Amy Ray.

Kate is now at work on her next full-length album. Showcasing her new passion for electric guitar, a mature vocal expression, and her signature lyricism, the new record will announce a songwriting talent whose time has come.



to write a review

tanya x. johnson

fantastic feel musically and lyrically. a star is rising in our midst
this entire is album is subtle and soon you relaize you finished a pot of coffee and the entire paper with your toes tappings. yes, time did come on humming tracks and dancing toes. beautiful lyrics, clear smooth musicianship. dear katie i. has made san francisco proud. the album reminds us independent folk music is back with its delicate story-telling and whimsical melodies. breathing life into san francisco's overlooked musicians. our local favorites may soon be on other stages.

lisa jervis

it's in constant rotation in my cd player
i am in love with this cd. seriously. i can't stop playing it, and when i'm not playing it i have one of its songs in my head. and i keep changing my mind about which song is my favorite, depending on what's playing at the time. it's addictive.

LD Ferguson

I Love it!
This CD is exquisite, groovy and bodacious, yet somewhat sweet. I love it.

Jen G

You want this
Kate is an extremely talented lyricist and musician. In this album, the sound is full and the vision fully realized. It's genius. You can listen to each track multiple times and hear something new in the story that each song tells.

Kim Cladas

intelligent, stick-in-your-head songs
This wonderful cd is filled with intricate, complex songs layered with beautiful guitar playing & sweet harmonies. Read the lyrics and marvel how Kate can write poetry and weave it into music. All the songs are good, but my favs are "Streetcar to Grace" "Simple" & "Don't Misunderstand".

Brian Groh

Just Listen to "James" or "Coming Home"
Kate Isenberg’s "The Time Comes on Humming Tracks" is the album you want with you in your car (or on your Ipod) the next evening you find yourself alone, remembering all the people you’ve loved. A musician of remarkable range, Isenberg plays guitar, violin, mandolin, and banjo, among other instruments, and uses them to compliment a voice that seems at once youthful and also wise beyond its years. On songs like “James” and “Coming Home,” and several others on this affecting album, that voice--and her haunting lyrics--can grab hold of you like a memory.

Tony Newton

One of my favorite albums of the year so far.
The first clue is the title—not your usual silliness. The artwork is kate’s too—another good omen. Finally, the music. Kate’s songs remind me of The Magnetic Fields (minus Stephin Merritt): actual, well-crafted songs, spiced with the odd banjo and the like. Or early Simon & Garfunkel: sharp, biting acoustic guitars, lyrics of love, longing, self-identity. It’s been #1 on our family kitchen CD player for weeks, and if that’s not the ultimate compliment, I don’t know what is.

Stu Ball

Great Melodies
I really like “A Ghost Named Virtue”, but my favorite song is “Coming Home”. The last song “Don’t Misunderstand” makes me smile every time I hear it. This album has something special going on, I can’t nail it exactly, but it is genuine and heartfelt.

John Mork

What a happy surprise... again.
Kate Isenberg has done an awesome job. I understand this was recorded at home in Garageband on a Mac! Amazing production values on the guitar tracks. Few albums feature an acoustic instrument with such spare, crystalline, ringing strings. I’ve seen her play that thing and she totally takes it places I can’t quite pin down. Like, how is she doing this or that lick? It is just full of surprises and shockingly clean sounding instrumentation. Then out of nowhere there’s a lush special effect over chorusing background vocals. The basic transcriptions are simply astonishing examples of the highest quality recording. If you like the sound of a great guitar that is playing interesting figures you’d never expect, then this is your favorite record. And she writes as well. She has a knack of turning a phrase that de-emphasizes its statement while re-emphasizing it’s meaning. It comes from the way she arranges her words combined with how she delivers them. She is truly an amazing lady. The lyrics on my favorite Don’t Misunderstand for example: she takes her very personal feelings out into the realm of a cosmological metaphysics. Explaining her emotions in terms of the most basic forces of nature, evoking the majesty of the cosmos. She describes the usual myopic spectacle versus a genuine splendid love. Ships in the slips of the harbor of your heart versus a love that is an entire ocean. Or as skywriting jet-smoke love versus the tailwinds of the sky that dissipates that smoke. Her tale is a contrast, soaring from the dinky to the incomparable. How does she do that? I play it all the time. It’s big Kate, big time, majestic as the temperature of the blue stars, indeed.


Rising Star
Some fine acoustic guitar playing along with Whistle’s, Banjo, Violin, Drums, Bass and an absolutely Gorgeous Voice all gel together splendidly on this superb offering by this young songstress from the Bay Area. “Streetcar to Grace” is 4 minutes and six seconds of pure listening pleasure. This CD is original and very easy on the ears. Other standout tracks are “James”, “Don’t Misunderstand” and the slightly unusual “Fireflies”.