Introducing Ken Stead

I was first introduced to the music of Ken Stead after seeing his video for his song ‘Oh Carolina’. The songs overall gentle tone and wonderful lyrics made me want to find out more about this talented musician. At the age of nine, Ken appeared in a Broadway version of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ alongside Donny Osmond. He decided to use the money earned from these shows to buy a piano which he soon learned how to play by ear. From then on his journey into the world of music continued and he has not looked back since. I want to talk about Ken Stead but I think I will the man himself tell you more as I had the opportunity to chat to him about his music. We talked about his influences, writing new songs and more, this is what he had to say:

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which musicians have influenced your sound?

When I was younger, listening to rap music, and still living at home, my ma decided I needed to be punished for something I had done  In one brilliant act of parenting I was all of a sudden going to the Edmonton Folk Festival with her and her middle aged friends (she hated the rap music I was listening to).  This honestly was a punishment. Until I saw one man and his guitar connect thousands of people together with just his honest songs.  From there on out I had changed my view about music.  The man we listened to was Eric Bibb.  His music touched people, resonated with people, enlightened people, and was all done with insane musicianship, and with a large dose of humility to top it off.  Since then I started listening to the likes of Damien Rice, and Ray Lamontagne. These guys re-birthed the singer/songwriter in my opinion.  It was then, 2008, I started to write music.  Going through heartache and hard times has always inspired me to make music but not in the way you’d expect.  Everyone goes through hard times in life and nobody wants to hear other peoples complaints.  I do believe though that my writing can help others go through their own hard time and hopefully give a voice to it.  This is why I write music.  Although with the addition of a really fantastic girl in my life I’m seeing a lot more gooshy love songs come out. haha!

Your music has this honest soul about , is this important when you write new music?

Music is like having a conversation with someone.  If you’re not honest with someone in that conversation they can usually tell you’re holding something back. I don’t want to do that with my music.  I want to lay it out on the line for people. Listeners deserve honesty.

Talking about writing music, what is your favourite song from the new album and why?

I think my favorite song from the album is Oh Carolina because it really embodies what I wrestled with over the last 10 years of my life which is finding my identity in whoever I was dating.  I think it happens a lot.  Besides the story behind the song I really believe that throughout playing the last 100 shows this song has been the one to connect with people the most and I think Winston Hauschild produced this song beautifully so that it has the best chance to continue connecting with people all over the world.

If the world was going to end and you had time to listen to one album, which one would you choose and why?

Foy Vance-Live at Bangor Abbey because it has all the songs that I have made so many memories with.  He is truly inspiring and am really thankful I found his music.  I hope everyone else does too!

What are you future plans and goals for your music?

My future plans for music are to really just keep plugging away.  I really would like to take my music across to Europe in the next year or two.  I’m only beginning my career so I need to continue writing and experiencing life to the fullest.  I will be quitting my day job this year to allow for more touring, more writing, and more recordings!   Its time to take the leap of faith and I’m kinda glad I didn’t bring a parachute!!

In 2013 Ken released his EP ‘Unfinished’ which has this laid back acoustic sound that is filled with amazing examples of how to write songs with outstanding lyrical content. I highly you recommend you grab a copy of this from Ken’s website (click HERE) and check out the songs ‘Forevermore’ as well as my favourite ‘Better Days’.

Now to the reason for this post, the release of Ken Stead’s new album ‘Fear has No Place Here’. I am so happy that he has released a full length album as it really gives the listener a true showing of what this highly talented songwriter can produce. Musically this album delivers a blend of folk meets county and the support of his trusty acoustic guitar. I love the guitar on this album is it has the wonderful stripped down sound that you would expect when hearing his music performed live. The gentle strumming patterns and delicate finger picking help give a gentle tone to this release which I can’t get enough of hearing. The only thing that sounds better than the guitar is the vocals performance of Ken himself. Like his guitar playing, he delivers an equally gentle tone that has a quality that soothes but also makes you pay attention to the lyrics that are on show.

If anyone was to ask me ‘Why should I listen to the music by Ken Stead?’, my answer would be simple ‘his lyrics’. I was impressed with his way with words on his EP and the way they share these must hear stories but with his new album they have somehow got better. Due to the gentle sound of the music throughout the album, you’re able to focus on the lyrics. I’m not sure if this was his plan, but I am so glad that his songs were written and produced this way. The heartfelt honesty of the lyrics are a delight to listen to. I do prefer songs to be written this way as it feels more personal and makes you connect to the music.

Ok, you all know from this post that I am a fan of this album but I’m guessing you want to know which songs I recommend. ‘Laid Bare’ stands out due to the wonderful vocals that are on show. Same can be said for the title track ‘Fear has No Place Here’ which also offers some nice acoustic guitar skills. It will come to no surprise that my favourite song is ‘Oh Carolina’. I have heard this song so many times and can not get tired of listening to this wonderfully written song. This song perfectly showcases what I have been trying to describe throughout the post as it has that must hear combination of great music with outstanding vocals and lyrics. Give it a listen and you will totally agree with what I am saying.

Overall, this is the best collection of songs by Ken Stead which is impressive as his EP was of a high standard. If you appreciate music that has a real sound with beautiful vocals and lyrics then the album ‘Fear has No Place Here’ is for you. The album is due for release for the 2nd October which will be available to buy from his website at Trust me, you will want this album in your collection!

If you want to find out more about Ken including future gigs then you can find out more from his website (click HERE) or alternatively, head over to his social media pages at Facebook and Twitter.

I have been a big supporter of the music created by Ken Stead as I have taken the opportunity to spread the word on my social media sites as well as writing this post. I am a huge believer that you need to support the music that matters to you and this is why I do what I can to support independent music. If you are a fan of Ken’s music then you too should help spread the word about his music.