It has been one heck of a ride for Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall. Her catapulting to fame started when she did an impromptu performance on a hit-breaking show in the UK after rapper Nas unexpectedly drop out. Then after finding initial mild success in the US, she was put on the path to stardom by former American Idol Katharine McPhee, who turned the song 'Black Horse and a Cherry Tree' into one of biggest breakout hits of 2005. That in turn helped fuel copies sold of her debut album to over a million copies sold alone
in the US.
Three years and those million copies sold, what does KT Tunstall have up her sleeve for her sophomore effort, 'Drastic Fantastic'? For starters, she has fine-tuned her mellowness to a fine edge, returning with even more mellower songs, almost similar to Chris Martin's dreamscape he paints with Coldplay. She also exhibits a rough & tumble side to her, transforming her from folksie-pop to just plain rock. And her deeo, brooding vocals are quite suited to the Chris Martin-like dream pop in a couple songs in the 11-track album.
The album begins with the melodic and comparatively hard (for her at least) 'Little Favours.' It almost has a eerily Sheryl Crow-like sound. A guitar lick that continously shows up gives the song a slightly eerie feeling. 'If Only' and 'White Bird' are songs that should fit well into KT's folk-pop fan demographic. 'White Bird' though should appeal to fans of Eisley with the ornate and intricate instrumentation and Tunstall's lilting acoustic.
In 'Funnyman,' we start to see a new side of KT, now having mastered the art of electric guitar. This might be the all-out glimpse of where we can see KT on her next effort. The sound is very lush and dense, accentuated by the mandolin and KT's electric artistry and her deep vocals give the song character.
'Hold On' is the perfect conclusion to 'Black Horse,' with the beat sounding somewhat similar. It is definitely pop radio-worthy and it keeps the pop hippie in her going. KT then returns to the melodic rock with 'I Don't Want You Now' and while the song delivers what it is supposed to, there were a few moments where it seemed shesi reaching too much with her vocal range. While most of her contemporaries could use some reaching, Tunstall in her case cannot afford to reach too high in her limited, but well-suited vocal range,
The album then goes into the dreamscape pop that was rediscovered by Chris Martin, starting with the deeply contemplative 'Beauty of Uncertainty.' The dark, but dreamy and brooding song is one of the best tracks on the album and should find its way on some TV show. The album ends with the moody, guitar driven 'Paper Aeroplane.'
Overall, the album has something for everyone; be it the folk-popsters getting satisified with 'White Bird' or dreamy, quiet pop in songs like 'Paper Aeroplane.' Perhaps a tough girl offering like 'I Don't Want You Now?' And for those who only know her by 'Black Horse,' 'Hold On' should be enough to make you want to hold on to KT, who apparently knows how to craft a good album. The reviewer would have liked to see another track usually in an 11-track set, but KT has set the songs in such a way that adding a 12th song is pointless. There are very few singer-songwriters today that can have that kind of talent and knowledge to put an album in such way.
She does need to though, avoid sounding like she is reaching past her vocal range. For most artists, it's not real good to have a limited vocal range but for where KT is in pop music, it suits her quite well and is delivered in a brooding manner and is quite effective.
The key tracks to listen to are 'Funnyman,' 'Beauty of Uncertainty' and 'Paper Aeroplane.' These tracks will give you an idea of where KT would like to and keep in mind that the latter two mentioned are very much experimental. Her first album was very much rooted in folk-pop, now in 'Drastic Fantastic,' she has discovered her rock side for the most part and that's a good thing.
Name: "Drastic Fantastic "
Release Date: September 18, 2007
My rating: 4.4 out of 5
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone. You can reach him at email@example.com