Push that knot away....
Released on 27 September 2010
Running time 43.00
Recorded at Hansa Studios, Berlin
I have to admit I had no knowledge of KT Tunstall's music until recently, so any review I do is a retrospective one. Forgive me for that if you are more familiar with her work. I had a preconception of her as being a bit of a bland, acoustic-strumming sincere singer-songwriter, popular with earnest students. That is not really the truth at all - her music is powerful, thoughtful and solid and possessing of hooks that grab you pretty quickly. Her voice is far more strong than I had presumed too, effortlessly soaring throatily above the most pounding of backings. There is nothing laid-back or reflective about this robust, lyrically-creative and musically vibrant album.
1. Uummannaq Song
2. Glamour Puss
3. Push That Knot Away
5. Fade Like A Shadow
7. Golden Frames
8. Come On, Get In
9. (Still A) Weirdo
10. Madame Trudeaux
11. The Entertainer
The opener, "Uummannaq Song" breaks out from a solid, slightly Eastern-influenced sharp acoustic strum into a thumping, powerful rock number, with dominant backing vocals and a dance-style beat. It has a big, deep bass line too and some funky-ish guitars. "Glamour Puss" merges acoustic and electric guitars and some more Eastern-sounding backing noises, an infectious whistling keyboard part and a strong, committed, captivating vocal from Tunstall, who is far more "up for it" in her vocal than one may have imagined. She certainly is not the wishy-washy winsome folky singer I had erroneously thought her to be. "Push That Knot Away" is an upbeat, Bonnie Raitt-style umber which, while it rocks, also has clear Kate Bush influences in its structure and delivery.
"Difficulty" has an excellent, buzzy guitar intro that swirls all around the song as Tunstall sounds very Texas-ish at times. "Fade Like A Shadow" is a marvellously muscular romp that demands your attention from the very beginning. "Lost", for the first time, finds the pace cooling down with an airy ballad. Once again, KT's voice is superb, full of character and verve. There is a vague hint of Stevie Nicks at her most gravelly every now and again.
"Golden Frames" has a sumptuous deep, bluesy bass and drum intro and Tunstall's vocal is positively Deep South swamp blues. It is track absolutely packed full of atmosphere. What strikes me about this album is its level of diversity. It doesn't just wash over you, it is replete with changes in tempo and style. That is further exemplified by the good-time US-style thump of "Come In, Get In" that is worthy of Susan Tedeschi. It is an impressive piece of Americana from a Scottish singer. It also has an addictive rhythmic break in it too. "(Still A) Weirdo" sort of fits the dreamy, teenage-y angst thing but the fact that she sings "still a weirdo after all these years" makes it a slightly sad, reflective song. Its backing is perky and engaging. "Madame Trudeaux" is a return to the US-influenced material on a stompy shuffling rocker that sounds slightly Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders-esque, with its "Message of Love" drumbeat. I have to reiterate that tracks like this were a complete surprise to me, and a most pleasant one at that.
Apparently, Tunstall is in the mainstream, commercially, but, for me, this is anything but a mainstream album. It is innovative and adventurous from beginning to end. "The Entertainer" is a suitably beguiling, engaging closer to a most impressive collection of songs.