Caitlin Kraus’ ‘What Rises’: Songs of Growth, Time, and Hope

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Caitlin Kraus’ debut solo album is entitled, fittingly, What Rises.

Written over the course of a little over a decade, the 13 tracks detail precisely the confusing, conflicting, and often painful things that rise from the shifting sands of time and pull themselves to the surface of our hearts over the course of our lifetime.

To Kraus, a music therapist, music is integrated into our being, a sort of conduit for things too large, and often, too true, to be expressed in plain language.

“Our hearts beat in rhythm. Our breathing has a rhythm. We walk, or move in a certain rhythm,” Kraus said. “There’s the physiological component, there is the communication component. Why else would we be making it?”

What Rises

That balance – of the raw stuff of being an animated body and the pressure-cooked stuff of being an animated body that must deploy logical communication to survive in a society, is all over the record. Vulnerability and guardedness – assertiveness and passiveness and the paths they create for us.

It makes sense that these paradoxes of being would percolate in the context of Kraus’ creative endeavors. In 2016, Kraus moved back to Athens after spending time in Austin, TX with her former partner. Directly before making that move to Austin Kraus had graduated from Ohio University with her undergrad degree – making her return to the region all the more relatable for the many Athenians who find themselves going away and coming back into the area.

“I think in a really big way I gained a lot of confidence as a songwriter, and as a performer when I lived in Austin. And I feel like brought that back with me in a way. It is the kind of confidence that I was just starting to build right before I left Athens to go to Texas, but my experiences in Austin really nurtured, and gave me opportunities to build confidence and to collaborate more with other musicians, which has also been an important thing to me,” said Kraus, who collaborated with a number of notable Athens-area musicians on “What Rises,” including Mark Hellenberg, John Borchard, Matt Box, Chris Beister, and more.

“I feel so lucky, grateful,” said Kraus of the Athens-specific collaborations on the record. “I almost don’t feel like I deserve to play with them sometimes because they’re just so amazing. It just feels good to know that there are people so close to me, I mean, literally within a radius of me — that I can just have fun and play music with, that give me constructive feedback, and seem to value my music as well.”

Kraus said she was grateful to those who collaborated with her on the record – allowing her to sew together a tapestry of experiences from over the course of her life: experiences of growth, strength, and, ultimately, hope.

Listen to my interview with Kraus, embedded with songs from “What Rises,” above.