By Christopher Calicott · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
I love finding new artists that really have something special. I have to admit, though, that sometimes it seems like they are fewer and further between each and every year. In a sense, however, that makes stumbling across a new artist – someone truly unique– all that much sweeter. That has been my experience since Kat Edmonson’s unique style came into my world. In a word, Kat Edmonson is [i]great[/i].
Someone said to me “it’s just a cover album,” of Kat Edmonson’s debut album [i]Take to the Sky[/i]. While I’m not necessarily a fan of covers in general, there have been some tremendous covers made in the last ten years so I approached the album with an open mind, of course. I also should say that while I am passionate about original music, I respect an artist that understands their skill set and maximizes, say, performance, before moving on to new things. Further, the classics being timeless, offer a great deal of room for creative license that, in the right hands, can be made to feel fresh and new, much in the same way that a poet writing in a traditional form can produce something incredible from an often-used structure.
Seventy-five years ago George Gershwin wrote a classic song for the opera Porgy and Bess, trying to evoke a feeling of the traditional African American spiritual song. “Summertime” has been recorded over one hundred twenty times according to Wikipedia and I suspect the actual number is considerably higher. Certainly “Summertime” has been performed live by many incredible artists tens of thousands of times. Kat Edmonson’s [i]Take to the Sky[/i] does not start off as many albums do in a gentle and leading fashion, holding back the goods until later. “Summertime” is the weighty intro track on the album and it is hard to say enough about it. It acts as something of a bookend to the CD, setting a mood and style that ebbs and flows across different tempos and emotions, but reminds us that this album is a serious work. As a personal favorite, I’ve spent time researching other covers of this timeless standard. There might be a better version of “Summertime” than Kat Edmonson’s somewhere but I do not believe it has been recorded yet.
Other tracks on the recording include covers of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” The Cardigans’ “Lovefool,” and The Chiffons’ “One Fine Day,” all of which are nicely done. Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” is included. Personal favorites on the album along with “Summertime” absolutely are “Angel Eyes” (my favorite recording of which was by Sting for the [i]Leaving Las Vegas[/i] soundtrack,) “Just One of Those Things” (also written by Cole Porter,) and last but certainly not least “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon. To be perfectly honest, I am always pretty touchy about covers of John Lennon or The Beatles. The originals are so good that covers almost never do them justice. I am happy to say that Edmonson’s version of “(Just Like) Starting Over” is perfect for this album. It’s slow; it doesn’t rush itself. By the end of the song you will understand why. There is a delicious shift in the piano back to a minor tonality that makes for the perfect other bookend to this album, just before finishing with a final track a cappella.
I met up with Kat Edmonson last month after her performance at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. She has been touring this summer with Lyle Lovett – she even does a duet onstage with him during his performance, which was nice. I was a bit surprised when I asked her if the minor tone shift at the end had been planned from the beginning and she told me that “only like three people have gotten that.” Maybe it is my background in music vibing off it, but to me, it was the perfect way to tie the album together into one cohesive work. It brings it full circle, and especially with the double entendre of the title, “(Just Like) Starting Over,” as it is ends sounding very similar to the first track on the album – “Summertime,” and that is essentially what I have done – played the album on repeat. The final track “Spring Can Hang You Up the Most” is also lovely but might not have as broad an appeal as the others as it is a cappella. Great stuff, though, for sure.
As a whole, [i]Take to the Sky[/i] is a fantastic album, beautifully recorded, with many bright, poignant spots that tell me a great deal about what a career Kat Edmonson has in front of her and has only just begun. I am left believing that Kat Edmonson is one of the few truly unique voices to come around in quite some time. She told me she has been living in New York recently while working on her next album and I have already heard an early version of “Lucky” that will be on it. I am very excited to hear more when it is released.