Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kat's Korner: Kate wants to talk

Kat: The rap on Kate Nash goes like this, "Oh, yeah, she really nailed it with 'Foundations,' really captured what I was going through.  But since then, she's just on her own little trip."

"Foundations" is a classic, no question.  But Kate Nash didn't ditch the confessional songwriting or the relatable topics.  "Part Heart," for example is about when love's sailed on and you keep painting your finger nails different colors thinking that might fix things.

And that's just the opening track of Kate's latest album Girl Talk.

girl talk

Girl Talk finds Kate speaking and, yes, singing in that British accent too few artists use.  The Beatles did it.  Few others did and few others do.

But few do what Kate dares to.

Take another British songbird, Joss Stone.

With a page from Madonna's book, Joss followed up her most artistically inspired LP1 with a retread of what had already sold (Soul Sessions, Vol. 2).  Possibly spooked by the poor sales of LP1, Joss went running back to a tried and true formula -- singing the oldies.  She'd made her most contemporary album yet but when the sales weren't there she immediately retreated.

Joss may go barefoot on stage like Sandi Shaw used to do but Kate's the one with Sandy's artistic bent.

She hasn't stopped exploring in her lyrics but Girl Talk picks up from My Best Friend Is You  to continue the pursuit of a stronger sound.

In fact, "Death Proof" quotes from surfer rock, Dick Dale and the Del Tones and Kim Wilde's version of "Kids in America" and pulls it off  in a manner that Joss' supergroup Superheavy never quite managed despite (or maybe of) pooling the talents of Joss, Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, A.R. Rahman and Damian Marley.

Kate appears to effortlessly pull together -- and pull off -- the garage rock genre that escapes so many.

Purists with short-term memories remember "Foundations" as near acoustic -- suggesting they knew the song better from Kate's performance of it live on  Jools Holland's British TV program than from the actual recording.  Go back and listen to that recording -- especially once the second verse kicks off -- and are you really surprised that Nash now sounds like she's been passed the torch by Bikini Kill?

There are so many great tracks here but one that stands out to me is "All Talk" because she's doing what she hinted at last time round on "I've Got A Secret."  When you write lyrics the world loves, it can be easy to skimp on the music.  Kate doesn't do that, she explores it all including tempo -- and does tempo in a way no one has since Laura Nyro.

You have a problem with me 
'Cause I'm a girl
I'm a feminist 
And if that offends you
Then f**k you.

If the tempo work recalls Nyro in the days of "Timer," the lyrics bring to mind the Nyro of "Women of the One World."

And that's high praise.

But Kate's earned it.  She crowd-funded this album which gave her the freedom from having to please a label.  Will it please the fans?

If they can enjoy "Conventional Girl," "3 AM" and "Are You There Sweetheart," probably yes.  And the final track is just an added treat.

Good for Kate Nash for carrying the banner for art, for following her muse down the dangerous interstate highways and not just cruising on what people already know and expect from her.  If your a fan of music, this is an adventure you'll embrace.