about & applause

Singer-songwriter duo Clymer & Kurtz seamlessly blends intense and gentle melodies textured with harmonies, agile and inventive guitar playing, and (usually) light percussion. Based in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, their music is at once subtle and imaginative, simple and rich. Singer Maria Clymer and guitarist Christopher Kurtz have honed their collaborative songwriting for decades, crafting emotional depth from a remarkable array of styles into a sound uniquely their own.

Dynamic Duo: Local Music Duo Clymer & Kurtz Release New Full-Length Album Recorded In Linville by Jillian Lynch, Daily News-Record, August 2020

David Gonzol, PhD, professor emeritus of music, Shepherd University:
Freshly original…. They have a keen sense of what is better quality and what is yet more excellent, and I hear them always making the best choices, inventive and effective…. Their songwriting is often subtle and always imaginative…. The lyrics they invent are never trite. They compactly tell meaningful ideas, poetry that makes its point with a few apt words. That’s good songwriting. They make a clean, uncluttered sound, listenable, yet pricking our ears up with their imaginative twists, often happy, nicely rich – always appropriate.”

Mel Lee, dearly missed music educator, performer and public radio music producer and host:
“The Clymer Kurtzes aren’t easily categorized. Their songwriting talents bring an emotional depth and maturity to their compositions that are unusual among contemporary song-writers. They also explore topics that are outside the usual run of heartbreak and failed relationships, so common as singer-songwriter fodder. Their songs are truly expressions of who they are….  While incorporating stylistic elements from a variety of musical genres, they appear to be concentrating on creating a sound that is uniquely theirs, rather than adhering to some formulaic approach. Both Christopher and Maria bring excellent individual voices and achieve unique harmonies to support their compositions…. Their singing, their songwriting abilities, their instrumental talents, and their arranging skills – they are the total package.

Jeremy Nafziger, occasional musician, singer and president of the Harmonia Sacra Society:
“[The tracks on the Clymer & Kurtz EP] are beautiful songs with gorgeous singing, very fine playing, and some combination of melody and lyrics that wrings (and rings) something emotional when I hear them. In ‘Crossing the Bar,’ Maria and Christopher set Tennyson’s perfect yet one-dimensional poem about approaching death to a lovely melody and then interpolate their own chorus—‘Write on the wall something beautiful/Write something big when you feel small….’ The subtle change in the chorus after Tennyson’s narrator, well, dies, just about killed me in the process; it lifts the poem from the permanence of approaching death to include the permanence of striving for beauty and all the rest of life on this side of ‘the bar,’ all with an absolutely haunting sound. The whole album, I think, contains that reach for beauty, writing on the wall something beautiful—about life’s passing moments in ‘Simple Things’ and ‘Little Boy Gone,’ about the edge in ‘Stare’ and ‘What Do You Get,’ and in the ridiculously pretty version of ‘Shenandoah.’”

Jim Clemens, composer, performer, and musical accompanist at James Madison University:
“Attractive textures … effortless and comfortable…. Christopher flavors his guitar solos with licks that evoke Mark Knopfler and Doc Watson. Maria’s singing ranges from gentle to intense while never sounding harsh.”