Music Review: Kate Earl – Kate Earl

Hi there…

Kate Earl is a new voice on the radio with her single “Melody” getting some serious airplay on my local stations. “Melody” is the first single released from her self-titled big label debut album. And though this isn’t really her first CD, it’s her first to get national airplay alongside other new voices such as Erin McCarley and Colbie Caillat. For a young pop artist, there is some surprising heft to this album that mixes urban beats, pop sensibilities, and even a bit of soul.

[amazon-product]B002L4BQVA[/amazon-product]Even if you don’t like “Melody”, I’d encourage you to take a listen to the rest of the album which surprised me. For me, it really opened up when I heard “Golden Street,” which is in the latter half of the CD.

Born in a small town in Alaska, Earl is the daughter of a Dutch/Welsh gas station owner and a Filipino mother. Drawn to music at an early age, she is mostly self-taught on piano, learning to play songs by ear. Later as part of a choir, she gained an appreciation for gospel music and eventually she tried her hand at song-writing. As her skills developed, she began to wonder if she could make a living with her music.

With a self-recorded demo in her hands, she saved up and moved to LA with her guitar and her dreams to see where they would lead her. Her first album, Fate is the Hunter was released when she was 23 and garnered enough attention to get her noticed by Universal Republic, home of artists like Amy Winehouse, Colbie Caillat, and others. Her sophomore album, just released a few days ago, will get her even more notice with additional time on radio stations across the country.

This album has a young, fresh feel to it. And though the airwaves are crowded now, I think the crunch of the last five songs makes Earl rise above the din. The first six tracks feel like a Trojan Horse driven through the gates of radio stations everywhere. But Earl’s personality seems to reassert itself from “Golden Street” on.

“Melody” has received a lot of attention lately, with an innocent Colbie Caillat-like “Bubbly” vibe. For me, it blends far too quickly into the background with its syncopated rhythms. But “Golden Street,” with its organ and urban beats, tells a story about a girl who’s lost her faith, trying to find her way among the glitz and glamour of Golden Street. Her lyrics don’t pull any punches – “people keep saying I’m goin’ to hell if I don’t change / but I sold my soul to God when I was barely eight / all of Jacob’s Ladders couldnt rescue me / all because I bought that house on golden street”.

And then with “Jump”‘s almost Alicia Keyes-ish beats and piano, you hear more of her soul roots and see her talent for evocative lyrics stand out. “I could have been a lot of things / A soldier’s wife / Or a centerfold / I could have been a single mother junkie always coming down / I didn’t want to roll like that / And lose myself or anything / I wanted to try to make my life the best I could and live for me”.

“Learning to Fly” would fit in with any Kelly Clarkson-inspired song list. Powerful lyrics woven with layered meaning… It opens with “I’ve made mistakes / but I won’t be ashamed / it feels like fate is lifting me / I can’t seem to keep my feet upon the ground / I no longer hide / so I let the sun wash over me / cause there’s no darkness left to hold me down / now I feel its light / now I feel the spark that’s been missing in my life…” It’s that moment of enlightenment, that moment when you know you aren’t weighed down by what others expect of you.

My only complaint about the album is that disconnect between the first half and the second. The first half feels like tracks are specifically engineered to get the maximum radio airplay. But the second half is where you begin to hear more of Earl’s depth as an artist. Give her the benefit of the doubt and listen all the way through before passing a judgement against her music.

Be sure to check out Kate Earl’s album Kate Earl at your favorite local or online music retailer. She proves that she has the chops to find her way to the airwaves. Just give her a chance! Also check out her website for more information about her music and schedule at KateEarl.com.

–Fitz

p.s. Be sure to pick up Kate Earl’s music at Amazon:

[amazon-product align=”left”]B002L4BQVA[/amazon-product][amazon-product align=”left”]B00094ARAK[/amazon-product]

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Music Review: The Veronicas – Hook Me Up

Hi there…

Back in 2005, Australian twin sisters Jessica and Lisa Origliasso released their first electropop-rock album The Secret Life of…. The album quickly went multi-platinum and the girls were off and running. So when their next album, Hook Me Up was released in 2008, it also went multi-platinum spawing a couple of top 5 singles in Australia. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the United States.

On June 25, 2009, the sisters performed “Take Me On the Floor” on the hit summer dance show So You Think You Can Dance, but this was not their only TV performance this year. They were on the CW’s 90210 in May and NBC‘s Miss USA 2009 pageant in April. Their “Revenge is Sweeter” tour across the U.S. just ended on August 1st, though it appears they’ll be back touring our shores headlining some concerts as well as supporting Kelly Clarkson in her “All I Ever Wanted” tour starting in October after a few dates in Australia and the U.K.

The Veronicas have an interesting no-nonsense approach to pop that will complement Kelly Clarkson’s brash pop style well. They mix occasional harmonies and traditional electronics – keyboards and guitars mostly – with lyrics empowering girls to expect more from themeselves and their relationships.

Though I enjoyed their performance on So You Think You Can Dance back in July, I have to say I guess I’m not quite the target audience The Veronicas are looking for. I definitely don’t have a “teenage girl” vibe about me (shocking, I know). I found their songs a bit repetitive, but did enjoy a few tracks on the album, including “This Is How It Feels” and “Take Me on the Floor”. As a word of warning, there are explicit lyrics on this album, so you might think twice for younger listeners.

When they performed “Take Me on the Floor” on So You Think You Can Dance, it seemed very poorly balanced sound-wise between the two sisters. But the album version has no such issues, instead providing a dance-worthy track that for some reason is now stuck in my brain.

And “This Is How It Feels” has almost a Blondie-ish feel, about a girl fighting a stalker. Though I can’t imagine having a stalker calling incessantly and never leaving a message, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. This is a take-no-prisoners approach to young relationships, going from love to hate as those involved question every decision. And the driving beat, keyboards, and backing guitar keeps it lighter than the topic might deserve, which made me have to listen a few times before I heard all the levels.

Based on their TV performances, I think The Veronicas would be a great duo to see live. So if they come to your town, I’d definitely check them out. And pick up Hook Me Up at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer. For more info, check out their website and MySpace page to take a listen!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up The Veronicas’ albums at Amazon below!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Music Review: All I Ever Wanted – Kelly Clarkson

Hey all…

As the original American Idol prepares to release her fourth album, I’m reminded why Kelly Clarkson has become such a pop powerhouse. Not only does she have talent, but she has a stable of great songwriters helping her out along the way. The first single, “My Life Would Suck Without You” jumped from #97 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart just a few weeks ago. I’m sure we’ll hear more from this album on the airwaves soon.

In a scant 7 years, her first three albums (Thankful, Breakaway, and My December) have sold 16 million albums worldwide and garnered her 2 Grammy Awards, 2 American Music Awards, 2 MTV Awards, and 11 Billboard Awards. Somehow I suspect that All I Ever Wanted will continue the trend.

Like her previous albums, with All I Ever Wanted Clarkson proves that she deserves to be on the pop charts with soaring vocals on ballads and anthems alike. Starting with the track released as her first single, “My Life Would Suck Without You”, she gets the album off to a fast start. All the songs seem to focus on various aspects of relationships current, past, or future, especially where the guy is clueless and the girl doesn’t want to take it any more.

“I Do Not Hook Up” tells of a rebound relationship. Written by Katy Perry, Kara DioGuardi, and Greg Wells, it’s good that the latest American Idol judge hasn’t lost her songwriting skills. “Cry” tells the story of a breakup where the couple knows it needs to happen, but they don’t know how to tell others why. “Don’t Let Me Stop You” is a woman telling her guy that if he really doesn’t want to be around — don’t let her stop him from leaving.

Probably my favorite song on the album is “All I Ever Wanted”, which marches right along to a steady dance-worthy beat that leads into the chorus of “All I ever wanted / All I ever wanted / Was a simple way to get over you”. She’s tired of chasing him around and wants him to let her go.

“Already Gone” is the story of a relationship that’s already ended, although one person may not want it to. “I want you to know / it doesn’t matter where we take this road / Someone’s gotta go.” It’s a love story repeated far too many times.

In “If I Can’t Have You” we hear the danger of infatuation. If I can’t have you, then I don’t want anyone… but I really want you. It’s another song on the album with a heck of a dance beat. Hard to stop from at least tapping your toes.

In the category of the weirdest song name on the album, we have “Whyyawannabringmedown” which almost has a heavy rap beat to it. This is a fun rock anthem that may not have Clarkson’s signature soaring voice, but was probably a lot of fun for her to record and sing on tour.

“Long Shot” and “Impossible” then go back to the more traditional Clarkson sound – a mix of pop synth, guitars, and drum beats. “Long Shot” talks about things being a long shot, but sometimes you have to throw “caution to the wind.” “Impossible” continues the theme – being told something seems impossible and then proving them wrong. You have to take chances, stumble, and fall along the way – but you can’t stop at the first sign of resistance.

The album goes back to much of what made Clarkson’s Breakaway album work. The pop-ish arrangements of guitar, synthesizers, and drums simply enhance her pop-ready lyrics and style. With her last album, My December not garnering praise as a dark set of post-breakup songs and no clear popular single for airplay, I think she knew it was time to go back to what’s made her career soar.

All I Ever Wanted still has some of that inward-looking feel of My December while making it more what people want to hear. How much of that was her record label and producers and how much was her I wonder? But we can only hope she’s past her dark period and ready to sing for us again.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other Kelly Clarkson albums at Amazon:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]