Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kat's Korner: My Best Friend Is Kate Nash

Kat: Who is Kate Nash? My alter ego on the incredibly explicit "Mansion Song." She won the Brit Award in 2008 for best female singer and she's huge around the world but she's not broken through in the US the way you'd expect of someone as talented as she is.

Kate Nash

She's very big in Europe. As I found out while participating by phone in a roundtable for Polly's Brew. I mentioned the album, as I noted a few weeks ago at my site, and was told it wasn't released yet and everyone wanted to know what it was like?

I do self-checks every now and then to see if I'm doing a varied enough body of reviews. One thing I never thought about was our community members in terms of American music is not the start and end of the world. I loved Kate's album and was planning to review it but I really got how US-centric my reviews have been by the huge, vocal reaction and grasping that if I floated Kate Nash in the gina & krista round-robin (another community newsletter), the response probably wouldn't be a heated debate as to whether "Foundations" or "Pumpkin Soup" was the better song.

Kate is a singer-songwriter. She's an indie. Her debut album was 2007's Made of Bricks. My Best Friend Is You is the follow up to that global best seller. And, as she tours the US, including later this summer with Lilith Fair, maybe this is the album that Americans will pay attention to?

If they do, the first thing they may notice is that, yet again, the British prove they appreciate Diana Ross & The Supremes and others more than we do in this country. In the US, we have a million Beatles clones. But the Motown girl groups (which are actually post-Girl Group era -- the Girl Group era refers to the pre-Beatles arrival when the Brill Building was at its height) and Nancy Sinatra and others had an impact in England that is still felt today.

There are moments on "Pickpocket," for example that remind me of Nancy Sinatra's "Sugar Town." There's a way she finds the emotional truth that often reminds me of Diana Ross' sixties work. And, of course, you can't be a British female singer and not owe some debt to one of the towering geniuses, Dusty Springfield.

None of which should imply that My Best Friend Is You traffics in nostalgia. "I've Got A Secret," for example, is a song that will have everyone mob-rushing to the dance floor of any club. The song that features more than a nod to the girl groups, for me, is "Do Wah Do" which William Goodman (Spin) feels "builds a wall of sound with blasting horns and Grease-esque bum-de-bum backing vocals." (You can listen to that song at the Spin link, FYI.) I, myself, prefer "Take Me to a Higher Plane" for the way the music perfectly accents her vocal during the verses. And then there's her on the Spanish guitar singing "You Were So Far Away" whose lyrics include:

His leg twitches, he looks up
Which one will he f**k
Takes her by the hand and smiles
You are mine tonight
Forget about the smell
Leave yourself behind
There is something in the air
That reminds you of your life

It's a haunting song and I have no idea what it means. (If you think you do, listen to the first verse before piping up, otherwise you may embarrass yourself.)

What I love best about her is the truthfulness of her work. And again I return to the spoken track "Mansion Song." Will many women identify with it? I have no idea. I've admitted to a drunken night with the hot [name pulled, I can't find it at my site -- C.I. says Rebecca mentioned my drunken one-night stand at her site but if I didn't blog about it at my site, I guess, like the Go Gos, my lips are sealed]. Back in the days when the music business and the music press thrived (that's before the 80s, kids) and you could earn a pretty penny, I landed many more rock and pop gods. And, for me, Kate Nash has more than captured some of the ugliest truths about the music scene. They are things you might think but most likely wouldn't share unless maybe you were drunk and it was just you and your best girlfriend.

But there's Kate telling all the truths about the ugly side of that life. That takes real guts. And to tell it in a way that draws a listener in takes real skill.

And having told that much personal truth, it's really time to focus on someone else which Kate grasps as she immediately goes into "Early Christmas Present:"

How could you let her touch you
In a place you didn't want touched
How could you let her get so close to you
That she could kiss your neck
And kiss it gently
And kiss it gently
And kiss it gently

How could you take her number from her
When you met her in that bar
How could you offer her a drink
And then the front seat of your car
And kiss her gently
And kiss her gently
And kiss her hard

How could you lie to me right to my face?
How could your best friend's ex-girlfriend's
Younger sister's mate know before I did?
Before I did
Before I did

How could you string me along for so long
For just over eleven months
How could I be so stupid and sublime
You know I think I had a hunch
About this anyway
About this whole thing
About this girl

Kate Nash just may be the best thing England has to share with the world these days. Sample some of My Best Friend Is You and you'll quickly agree. Go to Amazon or iTunes and just listen to the brief (30 seconds or less) samples they offer and see if she doesn't hook you in. Or check out some of the videos Google has. Or order her at Amazon (currently $13.99 for the CD, $9.99 to download the album). Or visit her MySpace page which offers four tracks to stream. Or, even better, catch her live. She's in Boston on the 28th . . . Oops! Already sold out. Well she's in NYC on the 29th . . . Oops, already sold out! Williamsburg May 1st and, you know this, already sold out. There are still tickets available (as I write this) for her May 3rd show in Chicago. You better catch her while you can because 2010 should be the year American grabs Kate Nash in a bear hug and refuses to let go.