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Live Review: Kris Delmhorst @ New Prospect Theatre (Bellingham, WA) — 4/28/24

My journey to a new home in Bellingham, Washington, in 2022 has led to a wonderful journey of discovery. One of those discoveries has been the listening room at the New Prospect Theatre (NPT).

Not long ago, the theatre again expanded my musical horizons when I and a small, but enthusiastic, audience experienced a gorgeous and gentle Kris Delmhorst performance.

At NPT on April 28, Kris, accompanied by Portland, Oregon based multi-instrumentalist Austin Nevins, performed songs from her extensive catalog as well as a couple new tunes destined for an album to be released in “January or February” of next year. The show also featured several songs from her last album, Long Day in the Milky Way (2020), or as Kris put it, a “tiny mini record release” show, long-delayed due to the pandemic curtailing live performances and touring.

Originally from New York City, Kris started performing in the late 1990s on the open mic and coffeehouse circuit in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She released her first album, Five Stories, in 2001 and was soon playing clubs, theaters, and festivals across the USA and Europe. To date, Kris has released eight full-length albums, several EPs, and participated in a number of side projects.

Stream Long Day in the Milky Way by Kris Delmhorst on Spotify.

Opening with the gorgeous ballad “Brand New Sound” from 2008’s Shotgun Singer (Signature Sounds) at NPT, Kris’s singing warmly inhabited the room while Austin’s fills and lead guitar provided understated melodic counterpoint. The next few songs comprised the tiny mini record release portion of the show with “Winds Gonna Find a Way,” “Hanging Garden,” “Nothing ‘Bout Nothing,” “Secret Girl,” and “Flower of Forgiveness” providing a taste of the 2020 LP. Following a new song, “Wolves,” Kris started delving into a few older tunes with “Bees” and “92nd Street” from her 2014 album, Blood Test before performing “Words Fail You,” a gorgeous ballad from her 2001 debut, Five Stories (Kris Delmhorst/Big Bean Music).

Watch Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Focault perform “Winds Gonna Find a Way” live for Paste Studio Western Mass:

Although Kris recorded an album of songs from The Cars in 2011, the only cover this night was “The Horses,” from Rickie Lee Jones’s 1989 album, Flying Cowboys. A wonderfully intricate and challenging song, Kris and Austin deftly handled Rickie Lee’s quirky vocals and time signature changes. Including “The Horses” in the show (also covered on Long Day in the Milky Way) revealed a larger truth about Kris Delmhorst’s music: She’s comfortable tackling just about any musical category. Her albums have been called “genre agnostic,” a truth made evident as perusing her back catalog felt like floating down a musical stream, songs spreading in ripples of folk, rock, jazz, and blues, their melodies flowing effortlessly in distinct yet intertwined currents. Both on record and in performance, I heard faint echoes of artists I’ve long admired: Bruce Cockburn, Eliza Gilkyson, and Suzanne Vega.

Kris had noted on her Instagram that “It’s been a while since we’ve played for you Northwesterners and we will certainly not neglect our duty to play a few old favorites — dusting off this 2008 transatlantic love song today. It has a lot of competition from other oft-requested ballads though so we’ll see who actually makes the starting lineup.” So, as the show wound down, Kris recalled the time touring in Ireland of hearing a particular bird’s insistent and loud call outside the hotel in which she was staying. As she looked out the window, she realized it was “the ‘okay to cross the street’ bird.”

The humorous, self-deprecating introduction stood in stark contrast to her exquisite performance of “Birds of Belfast.”

Stream “Birds of Belfast” by Kris Delmhorst on YouTube:

The main set ended with the crowd sing-along, “Call off the Dogs,” before Kris returned to perform a solo (and unplugged) rendition of “Hummingbird” from her 2003 album, Songs for a Hurricane; the New Prospect Theatre’s acoustics so perfect you could’ve heard the actual beating of a hummingbird’s wings. Austin then returned to the stage to close the show on an upbeat note, with Kris promising to return soon. I know I’ll be there when she does.

Please visit Kris’s website for information on future live dates, new music, and videos.

Here are some more photos of Kris Delmhorst with Austin Nevins performing at Bellingham’s New Prospect Theatre on April 28, 2024. All photos courtesy of and copyright Mark Caicedo.

KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
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KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24
KD, Bham, 4-28-24