Since forming in 2006, Kim Ware and the Good Graces have toured the country, performed at countless festivals (including LEAF, where Ware was a finalist in the 2019 NewSong Singer-Songwriter Competition), and shared stages with a long list of renowned artists including Indigo Girls, Sierra Ferrell, Granville Automatic, and The Old Ceremony. She has been compared to artists like Neko Case, Drive-By Truckers, Phoebe Bridgers, and the Weepies, and has cultivated a dedicated fan base over the course of the last 15 years.
Of course, during the pandemic, her tour dates began to dry up just like every other musician on the planet. Instead of taking a break from playing, Ware simply changed the format by creating the Kimono My House Virtual Concert series with her friend Andy Gish. It began as a weekly virtual concert played from her living room, but it morphed into something that she never expected.
Launched on March 13, 2020, the intention was to provide a space where they could connect with their fellow musicians and play shows for each other using Facebook Live amid the peak of Covid quarantines and lockdowns. Two years later, it’s grown to encompass much more, with nearly 8,000 active members from all over the world. Thanks to its organic and welcoming DIY feel, KMH has become a “virtual venue” of sorts for musicians and music fans to continue to experience a real connection with each other, regardless of their physical locations. Since its inception, the group has hosted over 1200 performances. The project culminated in March 2022 with the Kimono My House Music Festival being held in Atlanta-area venues 529, Star Bar, and Waller’s Coffee Shop. It featured over 60 musicians performing in total over the course of four nights.
Playing almost weekly for two years with a built-in test audience, Ware was essentially able to live-workshop her upcoming album — her strongest collection of songs to date. Mixing the kind of old-school ‘90s indie rock that college radio was built on with the sturdy songwriting of modern Americana, Ware and her ever-shifting collective the Good Graces return with their sixth album, Ready, produced by Jerry Kee (Superchunk, Polvo, Archers of Loaf).
Ware, a recent-ish transplant from Atlanta (where she lived for 16 years) to her home state of North Carolina, started working on the album in the bad old days of Oct 2020, framing out the songs with her acoustic guitar and voice, first at her apartment in Shelby and later at her aunt’s old farmhouse in Kings Mountain, where she now lives. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Kee, whose work with Superchunk in the early ‘90s made them indie legends, fleshed out the songs at his studio in Mebane, N.C.
“This was the first time I made a record in this fashion — tracking my own parts at home and then having just one other person (more or less) add all the rest,” Ware says. “To me, that process is pretty indicative of how so many of us were living at the time — doing things remotely rather than face-to-face.”
The pair worked on and off over the next year, finishing the album up in early 2022. “I really thought it would be a country/folk record,” Ware says. “But Jerry is really into indie and bedroom-pop stuff, so that came out a lot more than I expected.”
The result is a catchy, thoughtful 13-song set about complicated adult feelings that you might expect to hear blasting out of a local radio station in 1995 — it’s classic indie-guitar songcraft with a 2022 spin.
Ready is split almost down the middle, with songs written before the pandemic (check out the breakup rocker “U2 (Means to an End),” the shimmering “Overflowing,” and a tribute to her late father called “So Many Questions”), and others written during it, like the self-evident “Stopped Making Plans,” and “Recurring Dream.” Indeed, current events make themselves known on “Odds and Evens,” written in response to the events of January 6th. “I couldn’t stop thinking, even though I don’t have kids, how the hell do we explain ourselves to our kids?” Ware says. “I have a lot of strong opinions but I really wanted this to be less about that and more just looking at the whole thing with questions.”
This is fitting, as Ware says she’s drawn to polarity and contrast “I only became aware a few years ago that I tend to write songs that explore dichotomy,” Ware says. “I did that a lot on my last album, and I think I did it again on this one. Given that most of these songs were written during lockdown, I think it’s an album that explores things like trying to find one’s place and feeling both disconnected and connected to others at the same time (that’s probably reflective of my recent move back to N.C. from Atlanta), family, the concept of home, and of course, relationships — both to others and to myself.”
Born and raised in the small North Carolina town called Kings Mountain, Ware’s love of music led her to take up drumming at age 16, and later playing in alt-rock bands (including Tex Svengali and the Atlanta-based Chickens and Pigs and Virginia Plane). She started writing and singing her own stuff in 2006, after finding an old acoustic guitar at the Lakewood Antiques Market. After forming the Good Graces with some friends, the band dropped their debut full-length album Sunset Over Saxapahaw in 2008, followed by several EPs and the full-lengths Drawn to You (2013) and Close to the Sun (2014).
In 2017, Ware teamed up with Atlanta guitarist, songwriter, and producer Jonny Daly, refining her singular Southern style to release her third full-length Set Your Sights (acclaimed by major music outlets Noisey and No Depression) and 2018’s The Hummingbird EP. Daly also contributed to 2019’s Prose and Consciousness, recorded over a handful of live sessions at The Green House in Atlanta, as the Good Graces’ sound evolved into a more expansive, atmospheric Americana still rooted in simple, acoustic folk.
Ready is the sound of a woman facing where she is today while looking back at the past that shaped her. “There’s a lot of processing on this record,” Ware says. “That’s pretty typical for me, but I’d say the past few years were amongst the most challenging I’ve ever had. Even prior to the pandemic, I was dealing with a lot of change and loss. I’ve always considered myself a very happy person, but we all deal with sadness, and I think I use songs to help me deal with it.”
“Throughout [Set Your Sights], vocalist Kim Ware (who helped get the group together in 2006) maintains the heart-on-your-sleeve, emotional rollercoaster class of writing she proliferates on her previous albums. Jumping between elements of folk, indie, and ambient music (with some church bells and steel pedal guitar in there too) Ware and company have created an album that will appeal to fans of bands like Cayetana or Bright Eyes without ever feeling like folk music is being forced down their throats. That’s a tough line to toe, and the Good Graces do it well.” – Noisey
“Led by frontwoman Kim Ware, the Good Graces are prepping to release their new record, Set Your Sights on July 7th. Filled with atmospheric Americana and lush indie-folk tracks, the reflective set is set apart by Ware’s warbling Southern drawl (recalling early Sonia Leigh) confessional lyrics.” – No Depression
“Heartfelt…” – American Songwriter
“Kim Ware not only has a haunting voice, but also an extraordinary sense of songwriting.” – Pretty in Noise
“They combine to create ’90s resurgence-style indie-folk music.” – Ditty TV
“A revered indie-folk collective known for delivering evocative songwriting.” – PopMatters
“An intense single with exercises in song that hits 80’s power ballads, and 90’s grunge-country aesthetics that makes this such an item to sing along to. ” – Come Here Floyd
Publicist: Rachel Hurley