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Certainly the stylish Scot's strings sound as they've undergone more of a thrashing this time round.
KT has taken all the dinner party-pleasing mellow elements that made "Eye To The Telescope" such a success and chucked them into the mix with a fat dollop of funk and a layer of grit.
"Drastic Fantastic" finds the 32-year-old from St Andrews again contradicting the stereotype of the navel-gazing singer-songwriter strumming her acoustic guitar.
Spirited KT once described her music as "stompy, sensitive girl-blues", and the portrayal is now even more fitting.
For all its pop tunes, "Drastic Fantastic" is surprisingly raw-boned.
You can hear it on first single "Hold On", with its near R&B beat, and the toe-tapping "Funnyman" with its indie stylings and moody mandolin.
"Little Favours" meanwhile, is a spunky ode to teen lust, while "Saving My Face" tackles the thorny topic of going under the knife.
Vocally, KT sounds even more confident as she travels through the vocal spectrum from sparky to smoky and sultry.
The album's highlight is "Someday Soon", a dreamily layered ballad she wrote about her painful brief split from bandmate Luke Bullen.
This Is the Life
Made of Bricks
None of that happens without some prodigious songwriting talent and, without at any time seeming to erect a "genius at work" sign, she's done it again here. From the bumptious rock-out of "Hold On" to the pensive folky pluckings of "White Bird", this is quality stuff.
At the core of the album is a freshness and inventiveness - chord patterns which avoid the usual clichés and keep you intrigued.
Tunstall has never sounded better, and the Sheryl Crow riffs and mid-tempo chick rock of "If Only" and "Little Favours" serve her well.
But beneath the glitz, buttery harmonies and glaring hits, there's the sadness of "Funnyman", which details the mental anguish suffered by her friend Gordon Anderson (of the Aliens); the self-deprecation of "Hopeless"; and a sense that she is torn between her folk past and pop present
These are not, perhaps, songs to treasure for ever, study intently in the early hours or attach to the important landmarks of your life, but you'll be hearing them over and over and they will grow with repeated listenings.
My favourites tunes are the banging out folk-fuelled belters such as "Hold On" and "Hopeless"; on a more tender tip, "White Bird" is soul-sobbingly gorgeous.
The quote can also be applied to the new disk where Tunstall wisely doesn't true to recreate the quirky hit Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. And that is the blessing and the curse of Drastic Fantastic. That hit was a huge risk that paid off tremendously but on the new disk Tunstall tends to play it safe carefully crafting each song into something that is more traditionally found on adult contemporary radio.
There are some flashes throughout the album like the funky upright bass found on the first single Hold On, but the bassist on the song rarely gets a moment to shine as the instrument spends most of the song forced into the background of the backing track. Then near the end there is a smoky, slow burner Beauty of Uncertainty that builds like a train coming down the track.
The rest of the album though falls directly into Adult Contemporary heavyweights Sheryl Crow and Matchbox Twenty territory: there is nothing horrible but then again there is nothing that really stands out. The polished edges may garner her more radio play, but KT may want to leave the wax behind for her next album if she want to make another album as good as Eye to the Telescope.
Ms Tunstall & band are genuine musicians, and although there are pop sensibilities in the music, in that there are effective hooks to her songs, here is a thinking persons kind of pop, with beautifully poetic lyrics and complex melodies, and a vocalist that actually sings the melody with conviction and emotion, not following the American trend of "vocal gymnastics" to make up for not understanding the message of the song. It probably helps that she actually writes her own material, and therefore doesn't have to guess what the songwriter meant.
If you aren't overly familiar with Ms. Tunstall, you may want to spring for the "Deluxe Edition", which includes a DVD documentary with a legitimate feel to it, letting you have a glimpse of the personality of this very talented woman, as well as seeing her and her band in a very unplugged setting for several songs.
I am thankful that Amazon suggests Artist like KT Tunstall to me to try, and many others that have become some of my secret favorites.
But to the point;
"Drastic Fantastic" is one of those albums that I wanted to hear over and over from the get go; (at least for me) there is no "It grows on you" factor. This is a very edgy sound, alternating between a polished pop~rock and a raw bluesy sound.
All in all, a very addictive CD!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was great and I absolutely love practically all the music on this album.Published 18 months ago by Tony Fink
Kate “KT” Tunstall is a hot new rock star, shooting across the American sky and drawing many a comment. Read morePublished 22 months ago by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson