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Art People: Carolyn Walker | musician

  • Carolyn Walker  playing her guitar at her home in Leverett Tuesday afternoon.
  • <br/>Carolyn Walker  playing her guitar at her home in Leverett Tuesday afternoon.
  • <br/>Carolyn Walker  playing her guitar at her home in Leverett Tuesday afternoon.
  • <br/>Carolyn Walker  playing her guitar at her home in Leverett Tuesday afternoon.
  • <br/>Carolyn Walker  playing her guitar at her home in Leverett Tuesday afternoon.
  • <br/>Carolyn Walker  playing her guitar at her home in Leverett Tuesday afternoon.

Carolyn Walker’s life in music so far — she’s 29 — goes back to all the bedtimes her mother, Audrey, sang herself hoarse as her daughter drifted off to sleep, head full of melodies. It continued with Suzuki training in violin while a tot, years that awarded her enough mastery to start teaching the instrument when 17.

At that age, she took earnings from babysitting and teaching music into the Valley’s Slaughterhouse Studio and invested in a recording. Eleven years later, ready to show where a decade had taken her, Walker booked hours in a studio again.

No superstitions here. Having been born on a 13th of January, Walker decided to cull 13 songs written over 13 years and spent 13 months laying them down in tracks. The result, “Resolution,” is a deeply personal, atmospheric work available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify that can be sampled at http://carolynwalker.bandcamp.com. It is the work of a mature artist in love with song.

While Walker didn’t move far from her childhood home (she grew up in Amherst and attended the University of Massachusetts, then earned a master’s in music theory there), this is an artist who has journeyed.

For this project she again invested earnings from music (she still teaches from her home in Leverett) back into her music. Recording time and an initial CD run cost $8,000. “I could have done it better, faster, cheaper, but I didn’t,” she said in a visit last week. She needed time for stories in these 13 songs to find their right shape.

“It was my resolution to myself to do an album ... and to have the cycle completed,” she said.

There’s that word again. With “resolution,” the wordsmith in Walker wanted to suggest both the sense of will that guided her and, eventually, how she solved her search. It was will that sent her into the studio with a concept for a genre-defying album. But the playing out of an artistic vision took her down different paths, in some songs.

Consider “Songs Don’t Change Anything,” the track she refers to as the “sorbet” in “Resolution” for the way it clears the palette as the album changes gears. Walker had a different sense of the song when she kicked out a rough demo, with a scratchy “placeholder” vocal, and then became attached to that foundling.

At Northfire Recording Studio in Amherst, she laid down tracks, month after month, filling the vessel of each song with sound. “Songs Don’t Change Anything” grew and changed — in ways that first distressed her. “When you have an artistic vision, it might be a little foggy. It becomes its own living thing,” she said of each song.

In time, a new version of a song edges out what came before. “You can like it anyway. ... When I listen to the recording now, it’s the way it should be. ... The songs really did evolve.”

In her final studio visits, she pulled the temporary vocals and got to sing to a year’s worth of tracks. “You’re able to hear the feeling and the mood of the song. When you finally get to sing over it, it just fits the way you expect it to be.”

— Larry Parnass

Carolyn Walker will perform songs from “Resolution” at a CD release show June 2 at 7 p.m. at Esselon Cafe in Hadley. She will be joined by Adam Bosse on guitar, J. Witbeck on bass, Andy Kivela on drums, Jen Gelineau on violin and Nicole Fizznoglia on cello. Katie Sachs opens.

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