KT Tunstall – Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon
There are some phrases you can never imagine yourself uttering, but then suddenly they just pop out. KT Tunstall has just released a really interesting album is one such phrase. The album is interesting for two reasons. The first is that half of the songs were written around the death of her father, while the other half were written about the end of her marriage. While death and bitter break ups are common themes, these are extremely personal songs. Indeed, there are moments when listening to them dispassionately, critically, like you would the new Jagwar Ma album, seems somehow wrong, disrespectful. The second reason is that the album was produced in Tucson by Howe Gelb of Giant Sand fame. Unsurprisingly, he’s done a wonderful job, giving the music an authentic twist without simply turning it into a Howe Gelb album. Unquestionably, though, it’s an album of two halves. The first, Invisible Empire, is the least adventurous musically. Despite some nice Tucson touches, especially on ‘Old Man Song’, it’s piano and acoustic guitar fare and at times, particularly on ‘Made of Glass’ and ‘How You Kill Me’, echoes of a KT Tunstall lounge act can be heard. The second, Crescent Moon, is the most rewarding half. The title track is pure Kate Bush. There’s even a ‘waxing and waning’ motif that could have come straight from Aerial: A Sky of Honey. ‘Waiting On The Heart’ has some wonderful desert guitar and a lovely rhythm. ‘Feel It All’ is restrained here, different from the more radio-friendly version of the first single. ‘Chimes’ is a lovely melody with Howe Gelb himself on backing vocals. And the album closes on a relatively upbeat note with the full Howe Gelb band in play. One of the biggest compliments is that it doesn’t sound like a standard KT Tunstall album. But neither does it sound like an artist who is trying to reinvent herself for the sake of shifting a few more units. Instead, it sounds like someone with a bunch of heartfelt songs that needed to be recorded in the right environment with the right people. In that regard, KT Tunstall has succeeded.