Friday, 26 November 2010

KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit

Ever bought an album and wondered why you did? I am having that feeling about KT Tunstall’s ‘Tiger Suit’, her latest offering.

Like most people, I first got to know her when she burst onto ‘Later with Jools Holland’ doing the stomping ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ back in 2005 but it wasn’t until I heard ‘Suddenly I See’ followed by the fabulous ‘Another Place to Fall’ that I was interested enough to buy her debut album, ‘Eye to the Telescope’. At the time I thought it a bit patchy and one of those albums that had two or three crackers in amongst some pleasant if not inspiring material. Accordingly, I failed to buy its follow up ‘Drastic Plastic’ when it turned up in 2007.

Since then I’ve not really thought about KT but recent reviews of ‘Tiger Suit’ made me curious to know what she is up to now. So it was that I found myself owning a copy after a bit of an impulse buying spree in HMV a few weeks ago and have been listening to it on and off ever since. And this is where I start to think about what my motives were. Once again, there is nothing much wrong with ‘Tiger Suit’ but somehow it doesn’t quite grab me despite having some nice moments.

This time around, KT has gone for a slightly less folksy sound and opted instead for a series of electronica environments into which to pour her almost traditional sounding songs. This has had the effect of modernising her sound without detracting from her Celtic roots and the stomp evident in ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ is still to be heard on tracks like ‘Push That Knot Away’ but in a more dancey and less folksy way.

One thing that becomes apparent is that she likes to hang on to a single chord. This she often does for so long that when the chord change finally comes you are so grateful for the harmonic shift that it sounds just heavenly, like reaching an oasis after a 25 mile crawl across sun baked sands. But you can pull this trick once too often.

In fact, the album starts very well indeed with probably the best cut, ‘Uummannaq Song’ which sports a gorgeous chorus over wailing primal backing vocals. Next up ‘Glamour Puss’ is almost as good, but after that the focus falls away a bit and by the end of the album my attention has wandered a little. This seems to sum up KT Tunstall for me – one or two really good songs surrounded by OK but not outstanding album mates. Perhaps in future, I should get to listen to her albums and cherry pick the best?  I'm not so sure as already this album is growing on me.  Perhaps it just needs a bit more time?  We'll see.

Here's KT on Jools Holland - see what you think.  And check out the fab guitarist - it's Charlotte Hatherley...AGAIN  (ex-Ash, Client, Bat for Lashes, sometime solo artist and now with KT Tunstall.  Blimey, she gets around.)


luminous muse said...

I like that chorus a lot. It feels like she's got good singer instincts but has quite pushed it to a transcendent place. We'll see if she will.

music obsessive said...

John - actually, you are spot on. She has some great choruses up her sleeve and when they work they are wonderful. Trouble is, she doesn't quite get there much of the time. I've been waiting three albums now and I fear it's not going to happen.