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The Deer’s Cry is a Nashville based band named after an old Irish prayer. We play and sing original music inspired by Irish, Bluegrass, Jazz, and other traditional genres.

Our debut album, Rise with the Dawn, is both a haunting invocation and joyful praise, expressing the power of light in the darkness.

This album has been a journey of the soul. Over the past two years, it has expanded from a small collection of original songs with harp into a larger, more diverse collaboration!

The Deer's Cry band is Karen Ballew (Vocals, Celtic Harp, Portative Organ), Bryan Brock (Percussion), Patrick Atwater (Double Bass), and Will MacLean (Banjo), but we also collaborate and record with other artists.


The soundscapes on this album are enriched by the unique voices of our collaborators: friends here in the US, Iceland, England and Ireland. Together, we journey through various hues of light and dark which culminate in our final track, The Deer's Cry prayer.


The Deer’s Cry is incredibly grateful to our album producer Ren Renfree (Sound Catcher Recording) and to all the friends and family who contributed to this project! Our debut album is not just about the music; it’s also about community and a celebration of friendships, both old and new.


Working with Icelandic folk musicians Bára Grímsdóttir and Chris Foster on “Oh Blessed Light” was a wonderful experience, and it was an honor to have Owen Ó Súilleabháin record and produce our spoken word track!


The title track, “Rise with the Dawn,” is a collaboration between Karen and three long-time friends from the Texas Irish music community. Joseph Carmichael worked with Karen on the arrangement, adding his incredible guitar, whistle, and flute playing while Heather Carmichael and Cierra Brannies recorded beautiful vocal harmonies!


“The Child of Glory” was recorded with former members of the Gaelic Youth Chorus Karen directed in Dallas from 2013 - 2017, and “The Deer’s Cry” song includes the church choir she sang with there. Others in Texas and many Nashville artists contributed as well—We hope you enjoy our creation! 


Press and Reviews

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In April 2020, the title track from our debut album, "Rise with the Dawn," hit #2 on the World Indie Music Charts!


“This is not just a Celtic music exploration, the additive of other genres blending takes this to a beautifully organic place of exploration with the invocation of uplifting spiritual themes.”


“It is the songwriting and chemistry between the musicians that elevates The Deer’s Cry several notches above the norm and the crowning touch is Karen Ballew’s vocal excellence. She definitely casts herself in the mold of similar singers with the ethereal touch her voice brings to bear on listeners, but I think her supreme accomplishment as a performer here is marrying exceptional by the book vocal touches with a universe of emotion.”


“Many write about timelessness in music but this is performance art truly achieving that elusive goal because Karen Ballew and her band mates keep their art tied tight to enduring human impulses rather than seizing on the fashion of the moment.”

Irish composer Michael McGlynn

Founder and Director of ANÚNA and M'ANAM

"The purity of Karen's voice combined with some imaginative and immediate arrangements creates a unique atmosphere on this captivating record. Intricate and crafted storytelling combined with effective choral textures and atmospheric harp arrangements have created a beautiful and consistent ambience. This is unique and compelling voice."


“It speaks well for this band that they take the lyrics just as seriously as any other part of the songwriting experience; many of their contemporaries are too often content with placeholder lyrics that merely hit their marks and say nothing truly memorable. There’s no danger of that ever happening with The Deer’s Cry.” 


“Their arch traditional approach to composition and performance is almost revolutionary in an era dominated by technology, pop country, and hip-hop. It’s a reminder of music’s unfettered power when you strip away all the gloss and tinsel away to reveal the beating heart often buried deep within a song.”


“The Deer’s Cry brought me into their musical world with surprisingly little effort and “Rise With the Dawn” will cast a spell over many listeners certain to make them curious about the album release. That’s what a good single does. This is a band familiar with the past but never beholden to it. The track “Rise With the Dawn” speaks to experiences common to virtually any adult and boasts its own unique style rather than leaning heavily on outside influences.”


“The band has a sound and a positive message that is a refreshing oasis in these times of many distractions.”