Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter VK Lynne—much like your crusty chronicler—was raised in Pennsylvania but later came to California to find fortune and fame. Born and raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country, Lynne learned to sing the blues before she even owned her first guitar. “Folks think that if you’re from that part of the country, you’re Amish” Lynne notes. “I tell them, ‘the Amish are there, but the white trash folks who live around them in trailers and such? Those are my people.’”
A growing interest in music did not deter her from getting an education, however, as Lynne states: “I went to Allentown College, now DeSales University”. After graduating from college, Lynne would relocate to Philadelphia. In 2001 she would record and release her debut disc, the ten-track, The Key of V. Included here are such earthy numbers as “Dust Between the Dirt” and the not so seasonal selection “On Christmas Day”.
When questioned about the pun-ny title Lynne explained: “The title was kind of a joke; the band would ask me ‘what key did you write this in?’ and I’d just shrug- I didn’t know word one of music theory at that point- finally, one session the guitarist muttered ‘the key of V.’- so it made perfect sense.”
What did not make perfect sense to her, however, was remaining in Philly. (So she loaded up the truck and she moved to Beverly . . . Hills that is . . . swimming pools, movie stars . . .) Well, actually it was Los Angeles—but you get the idea.
It would be in L.A. that she would score a gig as singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist for “Hollywood jam-band staple, Monogroove.” Lynne admits: “I really learned the scene that way–the clubs, promoters . . . and we were gigging constantly; Rin (the band’s founder) tossed me right into it; I was co-songwriter for the band, singing lead, playing rhythm guitar and harmonica- and to this day I don’t know how to play harmonica!”
Lynne had learned the ropes and began to focus on her own music. A few years later (2005) she quit the group to release her sophomore selection, Black Halo. This work included 10 pop rock tunes similar in style to Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge. It features such selections as the well-written, hard-rockin’title track “Black Halo” and the standout “Scarlet Rain”.
Interestingly this album also got its title from in-studio chatter. Lynne Explains: “Sound guys would come up to me after a show and say ‘I can’t believe that voice came out of that little body! You look like a little rock and roll angel up there!’ Then my band said, ‘Well, I guess a rock’n’ roll angel would have a black halo.’”
Lynne also adds: “Although my music is largely secular, I think you can be a rock star and have faith, even if the world thinks that gives you a black halo. By the time we were ready to do the CD, there was no doubt it had to be called that. It seemed to sum up who I was.”
The album was a success in “the indie music cyber-world”. Lynne would spend the next few years playing the Hollywood club circuit with her backing band, garnering gigs at such noteworthy nooks as The Key Club, Genghis Cohen and The House of Blues on the Sunset Strip (opening for Cross Canadian Ragweed). Her internet radio play would also increase her international marketing value as her fan base would grow to include listeners around the globe.
In fact, in 2008 Danish producer James Thomas (Cher, Beth Hart) would contact her about working on a new album. Her fresh Scandinavian fans would inspire a new approach. Lynne recalls: “He found me on MySpace . . . It was a really exciting prospect, but scary at the same time; because I’d never been to Scandinavia, or met this man in person; and the plan was for me to go stay at his house and make the record- without my husband, without my band, just me and my songs.”
Lynne would fly to Denmark. “It was such a great experience, both musically and spiritually, that I can’t fully explain the reverberations it’s had and continues to have through my life. I can’t wait to go back!”
They would produce the material that would form her new disc Whiskey or Water. Lynne recalls: “James listened to my lyrics and listened to my voice, and created a sound based on them–a sound that I hadn’t heard before. The sound of VK Lynne.”
Her new sound would cross genres and blend the blues with rock. The recording would be completed and released the very next year (2009). This would also be a 10-cut CD telling tuneful tales from the past three years of her life.
It would musically mark Lynne’s soul-bearing “spiritual journey” focusing on such subjects as “her struggles with anorexia, Hollywood (and) religious hypocrisy.” The playlist would include an individualistic assortment of love and life, tragedy and trust. The album opens strongly enough with the radio-friendly, title track “Find Me”.
The second selection is the slow-burning “Mess Like You”. Your randy writer is gonna have to swear off drinkin’ ‘cause he has no memory of this hot night with Lynne and yet here it all is in this song complete with her dangerously sexy vocals and great slide guitar work. This one takes “Critic’s Choice”. “You deserve a mess like me” indeed . . .
“Dust Between The Dirt” is actually an encore performance of an innovative albeit older song. Hardcore fans will also recognize this tune as the song included on the compilation album, The Siren’s Garden, put out by the charitable organization Eve’s Apple which Lynne helped found. It’s followed by “Carnal Crucifixion” which is a modern blues piece focused bad choices and God’s forgiveness.
Lynne continues to show listeners what she is made of with the title track “Whiskey Or Water”. This is perhaps one of the best cuts on the disc. It’s a song about a challenging time in her past that’s highlighted by a mix of melancholy and a trace of traditional blues.
This “heart-on-her-sleeve” collection of musical memories continues with “Coming Down” which includes some nice piano work and picks up the pace a little bit from the previous piece. “Salvation in the Skies” is the next number. While the song is certainly a unique seasonal selection that avoids screaming out: “Merry Christmas!” well enough that one could listen to it year ‘round.
“He Rolls” reveals still more about Lynne and her perspectives. It contains some slightly disturbing material as well as additional blues elements. The song is vaguely reminiscent of Meredith Brooks and is stands out in part due to the vocal stylings of guest artist Hogni.
“Free” follows here and serves as yet one more example of Lynne’s versatile talents. The album closes with “Sunday” which seems to be a slice life of life song about trying to live and love in an oft’times imperfect world. Lynne—who also sings and co-writes for several newer acts–states: “What I am trying to say with my songs can be summed up in one scripture . . . ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart- I have overcome the world’.”
All in all, the album includes thoughtful lyrics and smoky, strongly soulful vocals by a performer who is an interesting mix of hard-drinkin’ gal with a guitar, and the reluctant prodigal son (or daughter as the case may be). Lynne may have shared bills with such acts as Beth Hart, Dilana and Frankie Goes to Hollywood but if the ambitious, cathartic work on Whiskey Or Water is any indication, VK Lynne’sown rising star may never be “Coming Down”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.