Press

Praise for Gabriel Kahane's debut album:

"[T]here is nobody else within the pop-music sphere making music even remotely as sophisticated as what you’ll hear on Gabriel Kahane. This is music for the ears, the intellect and the soul, and an auspicious debut LP from one of the most prodigious talents we’ve got." -- Prefix Magazine

"Gabriel Kahane is an NPR programmer's wet dream... From a sonic standpoint, Kahane's restlessness and ingenuity match the precociousness of his words, the album often abandoning pop's expected patterns of build and release with a less predictable approach that comes closer to musical theater." -- Pitchfork

"Where few listeners these days can actually hear the song of themselves in Schubert lieder, Kahane is telling us the simple and tragic stories of a life we can comprehend using just as much poetry." -- NewMusicBox

"The instrumental parts, at times, might be purely classical compositions all by themselves, thoughtful, and above all wrought -- carefully balanced, with contrasting melodies coexisting with each other, along with complex rhythms, and little strains of music that register like sharp, sure thoughts, or like images in a carefully crafted short story...

 [T]here's no denying the talent involved, or the very deep feeling, or the blend of styles that, at its best, seems uncanny. I've seen classical-music professionals go into ecstasies when Mr. Kahane sings these songs live, and the young classical musicians who play with him are completely devoted.... Something really good is starting to happen here, and it's well worth checking out." -- Wall Street Journal

"Gabriel Kahane does not suffer from artistic schizophrenia, his current slate of projects notwithstanding. There’s the piano sonata he’s composing; the “arts-presentery” musical genealogy of his family he’s writing; a fellowship with the Public Theater to write a show based on the book February House; and, of course, the tour for his self-titled new album, which showcases his warm tenor in a set of immaculate pop songs." -- New York Magazine

General Press

"Mr. Kahane wrapped his strong catchy melodies and stylish piano playing in arrangements for strings, winds and brass that revealed a composer’s ear for color, balance and counterpoint. Mr. Kahane’s singing, comfortable and nuanced in past encounters, was a revelation here; at times he combined a pop balladeer’s directness with a jazz singer’s fluid phrasing, reaching new heights of expressiveness.” --The New York Times read the entire review

"Later that day, a different crowd showed up to see the singer, songwriter, and composer Gabriel Kahane perform at Le Poisson Rouge, the lively Greenwich Village club that mixes classical music with other genres. Kahane is twenty-seven, and his listeners seem roughly the same age. He is well on his way to developing an original creative personality; his music absorbs everything from nineteen-twenties neoclassicism to blue-grass and modern indie pop, with potent melodies bridging the disparate styles. In league with a six-piece ensemble called yMusic, Kahane presented his song cycle “For the Union Dead,” on poems of Robert Lowell... [I]n a setting of “The Drinker” Kahane hit a vein of desolate beauty, dwelling obsessively on the phrase “foundering down.” His greatest asset is his sonorous, mesmerizing baritone; he brings to mind Sinatra in his wee-small-hours mood. Sinatra, of course, would have charged more than ten dollars."
--Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“The impressive young singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane describes himself as ‘the bastard child of Alban Berg and Rufus Wainwright,’ a shotgun wedding he pulls off with his piano-bar poetry and adventurous compositions.” –Time Out New York

The prodigiously talented Gabriel Kahane, who helped Present Music open its season Saturday night at Turner Hall, appears destined for stardom. But stardom of what kind I cannot say. He’s something new... Kahane is also an accomplished classical pianist and a sophisticated composer, he can sing in a more rarified, art-song style, and he can get around on the banjo. Every element in his unlikely skillset figured in “For the Union Dead,” a substantial cycle of nine songs on Robert Lowell poems. Kahane sang all of them, sometimes in his refined voice and sometimes in vernacular style. He played piano on four of them and banjo on five. He also conducted an ensemble comprising flute, trumpet, bass clarinet and violin, viola and cello. This remarkable young musician pulled off his many tasks with great aplomb and taut focus, and Present Music’s ensemble responded eagerly and accurately. Kahane has a very expressive way with arioso style. I like the way, in almost every song, the arioso seems to search for that hook that would elevate it to melody. Such melodies bloom with unanticipated brilliance for a moment or two, then fade poignantly back into arioso. In his melodies, harmonies, vocal styles and shadings, and instrumental colors, Kahane showed great sensitivity to the poetry. He heightened and underscored Lowell’s moods and sometimes embodied his meaning with the utmost subtlety. In a striking passage near the end, when Lowell draws on the image of fish in an aquarium, string and woodwind trills among pizzicato bubbles in the strings exactly illustrate the swirling tails and watery breathing of fish... [E]ach of these songs is a gem. -- Tom Strini, Third Coast Digest

“His untrained cabaret voice hides the slippery intervals of his songs, but their quizzical charm and whip-smart allusions are the products of someone who's spent time studying the composers around and before Herr Berg…I was rather impressed.” – Marc Geelhood, Deceptively Simple

“Kahane makes it work … his characteristic style of wistful lyrics and sophisticated chord progressions. Clever wordplay was wedded to sophisticated, elusive compositions, capped by melodies that lingered. ”
Steve Smith, Night after Night

Peer Quotes

“Gabe’s songwriting really knocks me out. He’s clearly absorbed a lot of art music but also has a keen pop sensibility. Even though his influences are disparate, his music doesn’t come out disjointed; on the contrary, it has continuity and grace, and he’s already speaking with his own voice. His baritone is deeply resonant and really fills up the room. You seldom hear that kind of voice these days.” –– Brad Mehldau

“Savvy, sophisticated, subversive, and often moving, Kahane's writing draws inspiration from his varied musical mentors, and spins them into something new. There's hope still for the musical theater when writers like Kahane are at work.” –– Ted Sperling

“Gabriel Kahane is embarking on a career as a singer/songwriter. His debut CD reveals a talent that is built for the endurance race in a life-time career. Plug into it all now, for to what venue he brings his music, Gabe will bring the benefits of a growing hipster crowd embracing his signature works. The kid is inevitable — the heir apparent of a celebrated musical family, finally emerging from the deep end of a fabulously gifted gene pool.” –– Van Dyke Parks

"Gabriel Kahane's songs are made to last. By evoking specific emotional
locales, they get under your skin and become a part of the music you've
always known. Kahane shapes lyrics and melodic lines with impeccable craft—
his large musical view commingles Schumann and Chopin and Berg with the best vernacular songwriters: Gershwin and Paul Simon, Weill and Joni Mitchell come to mind. 'Delusion Road' is unquestionably a masterpiece, a song so soulful that it is destined to become part of the American Songbook." — Kenneth Frazelle