You’re facing the man or woman you love, knowing it’s the end, having that awkward conversation. You’ve had a great time together but maybe he or she wasn’t always truthful or didn’t have your best interest in mind. Now you’re going to get dumped, and it really hurts. Then he or she says something like, “I hope we can still be friends,” and that’s when you want to hit them with a fish, a board, maybe even a hammer.
Singer-songwriter-musician Kim Yarson captures this feeling perfectly in her new song, “Smack You” (co-written with her online songwriting partner Beth Kille), when she sings, “So I thank you for the lessons you taught me, I’m grateful for the love that you brought me but what I really want to do, what I really want to do is smack you, smack you!”
“I just love this song because the hook is surprising, and who doesn’t want to smack someone at least once in their life,” Yarson says. “I call it my ‘gratitude with attitude’ song. I’m a spiritual person, but I’m also human, and I get angry. I also love to be playful, make people laugh, and my funny side is my good side.”
“Smack You” is one of 13 original songs on Yarson’s new CD, “Thankful” (Gratitude Records). She and her group, the Volunteers, will be showcasing her new music, as well as older favorites, at a CD release party on Saturday, August 13, in the Sapphire Room at the Hamilton Manor on Route 156 in Hamilton. They will play two sets, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
With a variety of vocal and songwriting influences — especially prolific singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman — Yarson is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, sounding like Mary Chapin Carpenter here, Stevie Nicks there. “Thankful” is her second CD (her first was 2009’s “Satisfied”) and is a true family affair, produced at the Robbinsville studio of Gary Jakubicki, her husband Paul Jakubicki’s cousin. Gary also plays lead guitar in the Volunteers and his daughter, Marisha, often sings backing vocals. Yarson also wants to give a shout-out to producer Jim Sheideler, who produced the vocals on the new album. Both men also contributed their talents to numerous tracks on the previous album.
Yarson, 41, an East Windsor resident, also shot a video for one of the new songs, “Without a Trace,” filmed on Long Beach Island, directed by Trenton filmmaker Jeremy Sypniewski, and co-produced by Michael Patti. The song and the video are dedicated to and inspired by her late father, Albert Yarson, who was killed by a drunk driver when Yarson was just four years old.
“The loss of my father was probably the deepest pain I’ve ever felt, but I healed through this song,” she says. “I was walking along the beach on Long Beach Island when the lyrics started to come to me, so I thought to shoot the video on LBI would be coming full circle.”
In addition to her songwriting, recording, and performing, Yarson has two sons, eight-year old Joey, and Tom, almost six. She also works part time as a dental hygienist for three dentists in the area, Paul Handsman in Bordentown, Stanley Rauchwerger in Hamilton, and Dennis White in Cranbury.
Her husband, Paul Jakubicki, is a senior mechanical engineer for HDR in Newark.
Born in the Chambersburg neighborhood of Trenton, Yarson graduated from McCorriston High School in 1988. She went to Mercer County Community College for two years, then to Camden County College, graduating in 1992 with an associate’s degree in applied science for dental hygiene.
Before his death, Albert Yarson worked as a solutions attendant for General Motors. Her mother, Diane Yarson, lives in Hamilton and is retired from her position as a secretarial assistant for the division of Air Quality in the Department of Environmental Protection.
“One of my most touching songs from the first album is called ‘I Am Soul,’ and was inspired by her,” Yarson says. “It is the most-requested song I get from my fans.”
Although she was not originally a country music fan, Yarson was always creative and loved to write poetry. She fell in love with the craft of songwriting after a trip to Nashville in 1994.
Studying with some of Nashville’s top songwriters through Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) workshops, Yarson began writing lyrics, but realized she needed to know more about writing music. She took two years of guitar and two of piano, while soaking up musical knowledge and guitar skills by co-writing with others, observing recording sessions, and just jamming at home and with friends.
In late 2008, Yarson was at a crossroads and a bit overwhelmed, when she realized her heart’s desire was to pull all the years of writing, study, and practice together and make a CD, which would become “Satisfied.” Now, not even three years later, she has a second release.
In addition, Yarson has founded and organized “Songwriters in the Round” concerts, taking her music around the libraries of New Jersey since November, 2008. She believes in sharing her gigs with other songwriters, showcasing the abundant original talent in the state and providing free concerts during tough economic times.
One of the most moving songs on “Thankful” is “One Act of Love.” “This song is a 100 percent true story about Stacey Applegate, a woman who I became close to after her husband, Scott Applegate, who was only 39, passed away and left her behind with two young boys,” Yarson says. “She and I bonded, and I tried helping her over time with her loss. She ended up giving me two sizeable donations to continue doing what I love, in honor of her generous husband. This song was co-written with my longtime co-writers Barbara Harley and Al Lind.
“I remember, she said, ‘my husband would want you to go forward with your music,’ and that prompted me to write my mission statement: I write and sing songs to paint hope and promote healing, with one foot here on earth and one in heaven,” Yarson says. “It’s as though someone from heaven is helping me, and how can I not be thankful?”
Another new song, “Where Did You Go?” takes on emotionally fragile subject matter, and came about after Yarson had a miscarriage last November.
“The song came after two months of grieving the loss of carrying her for nine weeks,” she says. “I had no idea how painful miscarriage was after only two months of carrying, and this song is dedicated to the scores of women who experience this loss.”
Here is an example of how a song just presents itself to Yarson, who says she was not sitting at her writing table with pen in hand, but driving when the song came to her. She also has been inspired while jogging or walking on the beach.
“I wouldn’t exactly say it’s ‘divine guidance,’ but the songs are not coming from me totally,” Yarson says. “The ideas are out there in the universe, so when they come, I grab onto them and craft a song.
“It was easy for me to come up with the lines (for ‘Where Did You Go’),” she says. “There was also something inside of me that said, ‘you need to get this pain out.’ So, when I was able to be alone and work on it, I got to cry myself through the pain, and it was very healing for me. I was able to get my emotions out through the song. The gift on top of the gift is being able to help others get over their pain.”
Kim Yarson and the Volunteers, Saturday, August 13, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., the Sapphire Room at the Hamilton Manor, Route 156, Hamilton. CD release party for “Thankful.” $12 in advance through www.kimyarson.com; $15 at the door. 609-581-6782 or www.thehamiltonmanor.com.
Upcoming appearances also include: Saturday, October 8, 2 p.m., Corner Copia Fall Festival, 299 Princeton-Hightstown Road, East Windsor, 609-426-8884; Sunday, October 9, 7 p.m., a fundraiser at the Hightstown Presbyterian Church, 320 North Main Street, 609-448-0055; Saturday, October 15, 6 p.m., Hopewell Valley Vineyards, 46 Yard Road, Pennington, 609-737-4465; Friday, October 21, 6 p.m., Teddy’s, 49 North Main Street, Cranbury, 609-655-3120; and Saturday, October 29, 8 p.m., Cafe Improv TV broadcast at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-8777.