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Wednesday, February 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Spokane’s Kori Ailene rediscovers her voice on ‘Bear With Me’

Spokane’s Kori Ailene rediscovered her voice on debut full-length “Bear With Me.” (April Egly Photography)
Spokane’s Kori Ailene rediscovered her voice on debut full-length “Bear With Me.” (April Egly Photography)

Taking a break between albums is nothing new for musicians. But moving to Hawaii and giving up songwriting for years takes “hiatus” to another level.

After years away from Spokane and songwriting, Americana/folk musician Kori Ailene has moved home and rediscovered her voice. She will release her debut full-length, “Bear With Me,” Friday at the Bartlett.

Ailene had no particular reason for moving to Hawaii nearly a decade ago; she just felt like she needed a fresh start.

Likewise, stepping away from songwriting wasn’t an intentional move.

“I just was having fun and really busy and it didn’t really occur to me,” she said.

Since moving back to Spokane about five years ago, Ailene has picked up where she left off, performing all over town, including Left Bank Wine Bar, where she currently works.

It was at Left Bank that Ailene met Nick Grow, Lucas Brown and Jay Condiotti, all of whom contributed to “Bear With Me.”

Grow plays at Left Bank twice a month, and over time, he and Ailene talked about collaborating. Ailene sent him a few songs and he added parts here and there.

Brown and Ailene had been acquaintances for a couple years but only started working together after Brown came into Left Bank one day.

“He’s so talented and picked right up on my songs,” said Ailene, who was working with Brown on more music the same day she spoke with the Spokesman. “I couldn’t help but convince him to play on my record.”

“Bear With Me” producer Condiotti also performs at Left Bank, which is where he caught Ailene’s eye.

“I knew that he was a really experienced producer and had an awesome studio,” Ailene said.

Recording “Bear With Me” went more smoothly than Ailene thought it would.

Worried she would mess up and waste money on the hourly recording fee, Ailene practiced constantly the month prior to recording.

All that practice paid off, with “Bear With Me” coming together in just six sessions.

“Jay’s really easy to work with,” Ailene said. “It was pretty straightforward and simple actually.”

“Bear With Me” is a 10-song collection that puts Ailene’s refreshingly direct lyrics front and center.

In a rich voice, Ailene sings about falling in love while feeling depressed on “If You Really Want One” and about being contentedly tired after a long day, her “knees bruised a deep shade of work,” on “Whimsy and Wine.”

Ailene contemplates telling a former love all the ways she’s tried to forget them on “What Good Would It Do Ya,” and on “Get Happy,” Ailene tells a lover she’s fine with them being just that, singing “There’s no need to pretend/That we’re each other’s happy end.”

Ailene began writing poetry as a teen and learned to play guitar after feeling writing poetry wasn’t a cool thing to do.

After years away from the craft, “Bear With Me” has reignited Ailene’s passion for writing. And while the record was only recently completed, she’s already looking forward to spending more time doing what she loves.

“Playing shows is fun but, if I’m being honest, I’m antsy to get back to writing,” she said. “I play gigs around town regularly, so I’ll always be doing that, but I’m excited to have this behind me and be able to start on a new project.”

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