Roger Kuhn Wing

"Proof" CD cover and link to Roger's website.

by Jed Ryan 

     A strange irony has slowly crept into the music world over the past few generations.  So many major label artists on "da scene" today likely fear the thought of venturing out from behind the protections of modern musical technology and gimmickry (and understandably so, in many cases...).  In distinction, most rising independent artists strive to make their music sound just as organic and pure as it does during their live performances.  A prime example of that is the expertly produced "Proof", the sophomore effort by New York City-based indy singer/songwriter Roger Kuhn. As his fans will testify, Kuhn is one artist who knows how to reach out and touch everybody-- but thankfully, NOT in a Diana Ross sort of way.   It's through Kuhn's triple threat of his looks, his voice, and his charismatic and ingratiating stage presence.  
Guitar in hand, Kuhn never fails to excite his listeners, whether he's doing a Sheryl Crow cover; performing original songs like "Why Can't I Quit You" (inspired by the cinematic love story "Brokeback Mountain"); or crooning more mirthful tracks like the live favorite "John": a tribute to the guy that will do until a meaningful relationship comes along (And don't we all have one?).  "Proof" perfectly captures the excitement of one of Roger Kuhn's zesty live shows; most of the album strikes the listener as a celebration of Kuhn's love of life and, especially, his love of performing.  This music is bona fide, American rock and folk with a spiritual river running through it. 
     "Proof" opens with the high-energy "What's Your Name", and keeps the momentum going with the next song, the title track "Proof", which features exquisite guitar work and soulful vocal delivery by Kuhn.  The stunning "This Moment" equates spiritual awakening with physical and emotional love ("Last night I danced with the devil, and today I woke with God; And u placed your hand on my body, and u smothered me with your love; And the stars came down from the heavens, and the seas parted like your legs; And I abandoned my innocence, and I asked if we could stay... In this moment"), and "Cradle Me (With Love") and the ballad "Beautiful U" really capture the essence of feverish romanticism.  Kuhn pays homage to Melissa Etheridge, one of his role models, with his interpretation of "You Can Sleep While I Drive", a sparse, unadorned, vocals-only romantic track which appeared on Etheridge's 2005 Greatest Hits album.  Roger Kuhn may have been born with ruggedly handsome looks and that distinctively deep, rich voice (Before we continue, it's worth mentioning that Kuhn must by now be just a little sick of the comparison of his voice to the vox of a certain icon named Elvis...).  However, it was his subsequent life experiences and personal crusade for worldwide equality and worthy causes that soon took over as an impetus for his art and activism. As a North Dakota-born, half-Caucasian and half-Native American singer-songwriter, Kuhn has used his heritage and experiences to provoke and inspire through his music. An example of this is the track on "Proof" entitled "Two Nations", a haunting, thoughtful ("I know what I'm not, but I don't know who I am...) story-song which gets to the heart of the most basic human characteristic: identity. "Two Nations" is Cher's "Half Breed" for the new century. The more salacious aspects of The Naked City, where Kuhn moved to at age 20, gave him a new, fertile ground to continue to grow as an artist-- an artist, I might add, who's not afraid to sing about the adult-only aspects of life, love, and sex. But with the exception of some R-rated lyrics on "Lust from 17 "-- one of Kuhn's loosely autobiographical songs-- Kuhn's persona is more of an earthy, strong-but-simmering, just-a-touch-of-danger, pansexual appeal (Think of James Dean or--uh oh!-- a young Elvis, reincarnated in New York City today) rather than in-your-face sexuality.   It's quite a contrast when compared to the extremes of the neutered male pop stars who occasionally show some chest hair on "American Idol" to excite their teenage girl fan base, or the overly ripe intentions of advertisers bombarding the gay male community with perfect chests and butts on a daily basis. Kuhn is the first to admit that he wants his music to have wide-reaching appeal, like his musical influences who include Sheryl Crow, Shelby Lynne, Chris Isaak, and Madonna.  Indeed, his music indeed defies ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and convention.  The CD closes with the intense "My Reality", which features haunting background vocals by Kuhn's friend Robert Urban.  (Urban also produced, mixed, arranged, and recorded the CD.)

     "Proof" is perfect music to listen to on a road trip, as you're driving across the country roads and awe-inspiring landscape of the heartland, and through the unmercifully sweltering heat of the city streets in between. And like the mountains, prairies, and oceans, Roger Kuhn's music is every bit as inspiring. Visit  and for more about Roger Kuhn.
Jed Ryan

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