KAKI KING: ...UNTIL WE FELT RED

By Trevor Pour

Forget everything you know about Kaki King. With the release of ...until we felt red (velour), Kaki tears down the self-imposed boundaries of her first two albums and explores a host of new musical avenues. Red is virtually nothing like previous records, which were dominated by her unique solo style and familiar pluck-and-thump wizardry. Vocal accompaniment has now become standard fare for Kaki, and a strong presence of other backing musicians pervades each composition. Additionally, ...until we felt red carries an unabashedly personal undertone, distinctly missing from her previous work.

I was introduced to Kaki King in Cincinnati during her supporting run with Mike Gordon's band in 2002. The demure and quirky performer I witnessed that evening is, in contrast to the Kaki King of today, an archetypal model for the maturation of a musician. For those who haven't been following this distinctive talent, Kaki was a primarily instrumental performer, adeptly wielding an acoustic guitar with an occasional foray into steel and lap slide, and her live shows were either independent or complemented by a small drum kit. Perhaps known best for her characteristic style of placing her left hand over the guitar neck and using her right hand to periodically drum the body and hammer on frets, her showmanship easily stole the spotlight from her meticulous composition and ethereal voice.

Fast forward to today; with two albums, a Letterman performance, and national tours under her belt, Kaki is a different creature entirely. New instrumentation, new production, and superb new compositions lift ...until we felt red to the next level. The album is a smooth blend of fresh ideas and refined classics, playing out in nearly alternating form, track by track. The addition of lyrical songs nicely complements Kaki's technical instrumentation, as heard on "Jessica," "Yellowcake," and "I Never Said I Love You," the latter emerging as a bluesy, soulful, and sharp tune. The first seven tracks on red alternate between vocals and instrumentals, with each showing a slightly new facet of Kaki's skill. The last six purely instrumental tracks flow together beautifully, reminiscent of past albums but vastly superior in tone, timing, and breadth. Very little compares, however, to the phenomenal composition on the title track of this album. A calm foundation is punctuated by controlled chaos - and not the kind we hear from the likes of Skerik, but a fully contained, collected, pseudo-chaos. The full sound of a percussive unit further complicates an already complicated soloist, but I'm fairly sure it's a good thing. From the refined, complete sounds of "Ahuvari" and "Second Brain" to the dominating vocals of "You Don't Have to Be Afraid," fans won't be disappointed with ...until we felt red. This is simply everything listeners have come to expect from Kaki, but better.

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[Published on: 8/16/06]

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Comments

nonoodlejam star Sun 1/21/2007 10:45PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I totally disagree. I love Kaki and think she is a true original, but I think this album is a little to "artsy" just for the sake of being "artsy". This writer continually misses the mark for me. I continually completely disagree with his opinion. It's actually kind of funny.