Heal the Heart, the second album by The Deer’s Cry, features songs of hope throughout this 10-song collection, yet the album’s creation grew out of dark, sad times. Heal the Heart finds lead singer, Karen Thames Ballew, grappling with the isolation of the early days of the pandemic with the stories of division as a backdrop. Initially full of uncertainty, Karen began writing new songs to follow the band’s 2020 debut, however, she found that sparks of joy crept into her writing, and upon stepping back noticed messages of transformation and healing throughout her work. “The Deer’s Cry celebrates the coexistence of different voices and the beauty of various backgrounds and sensibilities working together to serve something greater than any one of us, while at the same time, honoring the character of the individual.”
Indeed, with Heal the Heart, The Deer’s Cry explores the beauty and symbolism of the spiritual, consistently reminding listeners of both the vastness of our universe and the importance of their role in it. From the subterranean river in “Cavern Cathedral” to the white blossoms of “Dogwood Tree,” The Deer’s Cry explores the mystery and beauty of transformation. “Night Falls” opens with a recitation of an Irish translation of the Deep Peace blessing while “Morning Light” takes its chorus lyrics from the Tihanama Nation’s morning song, “We n’ de ya ho (I am of the Great Spirit, it is so)”. In the spirit of acknowledging something larger than one’s self, the band’s name, The Deer’s Cry, comes from a translation of the title of an Old Irish prayer, St. Patrick’s Breastplate, which reflects on the natural beauty, personal strength, and protection given by a higher power.
In 2017, Karen moved to Nashville, inspired by both the collaborative nature and diversity of the music community. Gradually, through chance meetings, she formed a band. Bryan Brock studied percussion in Ghana and Cuba and is immersed in the Nashville Latin and jazz music scenes. Patrick Atwater is a jazz bassist, arranger, and composer extraordinaire, and Will MacLean adds banjo, acoustic and tasteful electric guitar to the mix. Karen’s vocals recall Celtic influences throughout, with subtle nods to other world musics, yet it is all drawn together with one overall sound. Recorded at The Doghouse Studio with Nick Bullock producing, engineering, and orchestrating, the combined musical voices of the band create a mystical intertwining of bluegrass, Celtic, classical, folk, gospel, jazz, rock, and world music. They invite the listener to join them on an epic journey of healing, hope, and transformation.
Texas born Karen has had an eclectic musical life, from singing in choirs, musical theatre and folk songs - not just from America but incorporating styles from all over the world. In college, Karen studied choral, medieval, and Renaissance music, finding a home in the Dallas Irish music scene and since 2008, has been taking classes at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat and founded and directed a youth chorus at the North Texas School of Irish Music (2013 - 2017). Karen also recorded an EP with the Irish vocal ensemble Anúna.
The Deer’s Cry is grateful for opportunities to share songs from both albums, Rise with the Dawn and Heal the Heart.