"Too country for country radio, Koch these days would get filed under folk, the same place you find too country for country folks such as Lucinda Williams. That’s country’s loss." (Houston Chronicle)
Summer 2016--For her new album, Just Move On (June 24, 2016, Berkalin Records) Americana singer-songwriter Libby Koch set out to deliver a collection of “true cryin’ and leavin’ country songs,” inspired by the strong-woman spirits of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and other legendary voices she grew up admiring. Guided by Grammy-winning Nashville producer Bil VornDick, she succeeds brilliantly; the album’s 11 tracks plumb matters of the heart with lyrical candor, melodic diversity and top-notch musicianship from some of Nashville’s finest players.
Critics are already taking notice; calling the album “delightful,” No Depression added, “Koch produces songs which are warm, vulnerable and relatable, like a bowl of gumbo and a mug of Shiner Bock at the end of a hard, rainy day.”
She also imbues them with an immediacy one doesn’t always hear in such recordings; that came, in part, from the way they were captured in the studio.
“We recorded the whole thing live over two days; two sessions per day,” says Koch (pronounced “coke”). “That’s something I’ve never done before. It was so cool. It’s like the energy of playing onstage, but multiplied.”
Recording took place at Studio 19 on Music Row and at VornDick’s Mountainside Audio Labs, a former Moose Lodge where Cline and others used to drink when Nashville was a dry town. As if playing in legendary spaces with equally legendary session aces — including Bobby Ogdin (Elvis Presley), Sonny Garrish (George Jones), Bruce Dees (Ronnie Milsap) and Aubrie Haynie (Dolly Parton) — wasn’t thrilling enough, for Koch, the experience was even more inspiring because that city was where her musical dreams took form.
A seventh-generation Texan, the Houston native and part-time Austin resident started writing songs in eighth grade. She performed in coffee houses “just for fun” while attending Texas A&M, but then she entered law school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville — where, she says, “Everybody picks up a guitar and starts playing.”
“I realized I could hang, which surprised me,” she recalls. “I wouldn’t be making music professionally if I hadn’t gone to law school.”
Koch began recording her first album right after graduation, but that tuition debt required taking a job at a large Houston law firm. It got old fast, but when a mentor suggested she take a year off to give music a go, her reaction was “I can’t do that!” Her next reaction was “Wait. Can I do that?” She started saving and planning. Caught in a round of layoffs months later, she tried not to smile too much on her way out.
Six years later, she’s releasing her fourth solo album, which captures her gospel-grounded and honkytonk-honed voice powerfully navigating the emotions inherent in songs about relationships (all of which she wrote or co-wrote). Starting with the opening break-up trio, “Just Move On,” “You Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “Out of My Misery” — three diverse, retro-to-modern songs that convey both the pain of loss and the triumph of empowerment — Koch inhabits a style Free Press Houston accurately labels “country meets soulful.”
“I’m a little bit country; I’m a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. I got a little folk in me,” Koch says. Her mom turned her on to Motown; her dad adored cowboy music. “I think I probably landed somewhere in the middle of that.”
She ties it all together with a little Muscle Shoals soul — an intentional evolution from the acoustic-roots sound of her 2014 release, Tennessee Colony, which drew on her ancestors’ stories to address themes of family, faith and home. Among its many accolades, that one earned a spot on the Houston Press’ year-end top-10 list.
Koch also was part of the Grievous Angels, the trio whose self-titled 2013 album earned a Houston Press Music Award and the 2014 Texas Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year.
She says this album’s title is a nod to the notion of following your heart and your dreams, as well as her shift to a more electric sound. The song itself, however, addresses not being ready to move on. But a lyric in “Out of My Misery” perfectly encapsulates both the kiss-off and career move: Cause I’m making plans here/And I’m moving on.
And when you find yourself in a spot you don’t want to be in, she adds, you’ve gotta figure out how to do exactly that.
Spring 2014--Seventh generation Texan and Berkalin Records recording artist Libby Koch is an Americana singer-songwriter based in Houston. The 2013 Houston Press Music Award winner for Best Songwriter draws from a classic Americana blend of country, folk, and rock, with influences from great artists such as Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Janis Joplin, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Dolly Parton. Her goal is to make real, honest music that resonates with people.
Libby has been playing some of the nation's best independent music venues over the past few years. She regularly plays local shows at Houston's McGonigel's Mucky Duck and Firehouse Saloon and plays across the Lone Star State at venues such as Adair's Saloon in Dallas and Poodie's in Austin. Libby recently returned from a 10-state, 18-show tour through the Southeast, which included gigs at the Basement in Nashville and the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans. She toured Europe in 2011 and is scheduled to return to the West Coast in early 2014, where she has previously played at venues such as the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles.
Libby plays shows (1) with the full Libby Koch Band, (2) as a rootsier Black Keys style duo with drummer Joe Devadanam, and (3) solo acoustic. She's opened for artists such as Robert Earl Keen, Hayes Carll, Charlie Robison, Bonnie Bishop, Gary P. Nunn, The Trishas, Kevin Fowler, The Derailers, and Lorrie Morgan.