Kim Lembo comes back to her hometown with a different voice

Kim Lembo, in California. (From

Kim Lembo, in California. (From

For a glorius half-dozen years, Kim Lembo was the real deal in Syracuse music, and constantly threatening to be the Next Big Thing to take the world’s ears by storm.

I covered her voice and her four albums and her live shows, from her debut in 1994 on Baldwinsville’s Blue Wave Records until she moved to San Francisco at the turn of this century.

As happens 99 percent of the time, even though plenty of big names said many great things about her sound and her songs, that ultimate break-out and stardom did not happen.

Life went on.

I received a really nice Facebook message from Kim a week or so ago, telling me of a Syracuse-area show coming up Wednesday. She’s coming back from Oakland for a set. A new album is in the works. Did I know anybody who might like to write about that?

You can read my Mark It Up community column for Syracuse Public Media site by clicking the link below.

She’s changed her singing ways.

The woman the pundits compared to Susan Tedeschi and Lou Ann Barton — nothing to sneeze at there, mind you — is a blues belter no longer.

“I couldn’t listen to Paris Burning, it came out 15 years ago, and I couldn’t listen to it until two months ago without cringing,” Lembo told me in a phone conversation. I was over-reaching so much.”

This new style, Lembo says, has a country feel, but it’s not country. In the day, she used to record blues classics. Now she’s written all 12 songs that will come out on the new record next year herself. She learned how to play the guitar in the 15 years since that last album. There will be a stand-up acoustic bass on this one, too.


Nice to talk with you again, Kim Lembo. My how time goes on. In a good way.

What artists have changed their styles over the years to the greatest advantage, in your opinion, and why? Are you generally pro or con more acoustic-oriented albums, and why? Do you think artists who write their own songs in a mid-career break-through have a better chance of finding a new audience or winning over the old crowd, and why?

35 thoughts on “Kim Lembo comes back to her hometown with a different voice

  1. I’ve had a conversation recently about artists that reinvent themselves. It’s a really hard thing and you always risk losing fans though sometimes necessary if you don’t want to just keep doing watered down versions of your best stuff. I think maybe the only artist who has done this successfully is Buster Poindexter/David Johansen Maybe Madonna but to me she’s never been so radically different. Kim actually has an advantage here since she is still growing her career. Maybe this change in styles will bring her more success.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for introducing us to Kim Lembo. I hadn’t listened to her before. She has a big voice and a lot of soul. I looked up both old and newer recordings.

    I think the beauty here is that it doesn’t sound like she has reinvented herself, it seems more like she has found her voice. I knew just what she was talking about that she cringed listening to her old music. I like it, but she knows inside what she wants to achieve. I’ve felt that way so often about old pieces. I can’t wait to take them apart and rewrite them.


  3. My pick is Kid Rock, as he has gone from rapper to southern rock to a tad country now. And he writes the majority of his songs. I think if you really love an artist, you stick with them to see how they grow – and if they can reinvent their own wheel!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not familiar with her, but I love a good blues artist. Maybe she’d have had more success going to New Orleans, instead of California ? The singer /songwriter will usually win out in the end. There are so few who have success in both. Nice article. โ˜บ


  5. i love musicians who write and perform their own work and i’m sure she’s a great one. i think sometimes a performer has to change with the times, with what works, and when they find their strengths. i give her all the credit in the world for that )

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice review bro Mark. I’m sure you already know I prefer acoustic, my own instrument of choice. And of course I’m now wondering again if Don loosened the strings on my Martin before he stored it. And I’m also wondering why I’m worried about a problem that is no longer mine. Especially since I’m sitting in a tiny opening in what used to be my bedroom that is now filled to the gills with packed and stacked boxes of who knows what, just waiting for my move down the hall in 9 days and 12 hours. I’m so tired right now, but too excited to sleep. Not a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it is hard to decide when you are “accustomed” to a whole different sound from the musician. I like when the person overlaps some of his or her songs so the new and old get mixed in. This is a little like when Paul Simon was a “balladeer” who decide to embrace ethnicity. I admired his new work but was more “comfortable ” with the great and meaningful songs which I was more familiar with. Really, how did you feel about her change?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy because she is so delighted with it, and so much time has gone by since the old blues days, Robin. It’s not as if the change has been drastic and overnight. You know what I mean? Kim matured into this sound naturally.


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