… Until We Felt Red
aki King has long been known as one of the world’s finest guitarists of the bass slapping, fret-tapping technique and, for the past five years, her face has been the celebrity image that represents youthful, female guitarists from all over the world. But, like thousands of virtuosic musicians before her, many critics have labelled King as a one-dimensional artist: all technique, little soul. … Until We Felt Red won’t change listeners thoughts about King’s one-dimensionality much, but this time it’s not because she doesn’t have enough soul. .
But first: there are highlights. The finger-picking approach that King displays on the album’s introduction, “Yellowcake,” may mislead some listeners into expecting it for the whole CD. The track starts in a chivalrous manner with a polite melody. King’s sugar-coated, nymph-like vocals meld with several electrical drones, that sound convincingly like a whale’s mating call, during the track’s most poignant, climatic moments.
“You Don’t Have to Be Afraid” sounds as if it has been separated into three completely different parts, where the only common factor between the three, is a refrain of the song’s title. Dominating the first section is an acoustic melody that’s much less complicated than anything else heard on the album. Cleverly overlapped vocals make Kaki’s thin whispers much more powerful than they really are. With part two, she greets us by once again telling us that there’s something we don’t have to be afraid of. It’s hard to know what that is, though—her consonants and vowels blend immaculately, making her voice seem more like an instrument than someone speaking the English language. Segment three’s faster tempo should be received graciously, as it’s the only part of the album that a rhythmically ambitious person might attempt to dance to; however, a decent argument regarding King’s Enya impression could persuade otherwise. Why? Because nobody wants to dance to Enya.
Soon after these first few tracks, the album’s mood sharply plummets into seductively depressing territory. “First Brain”’s trumpet cameo and sparse shots of flamenco guitar showcase a darker side of King’s European influences, whereas the track’s sequel, “Second Brain” features a stronger, Western pop structure, but still manages to maintain the same, slightly morbid, aura. “Ahuvati,” and “These Are the Armies of the Ty” feature plenty of melancholic guitar, and the album’s finale, “Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers,” leaves the unfortunate listener with perhaps the album’s most depressing track. King’s sorrow lost its mystery early, however. And, by the end of the album, her sadness has fallen off the redundancy cliff multiple times over.
King’s … Until We Felt Red features songwriting and vocals that do nothing to stimulate the emotions that it attempts to portray. It goes for soul, but her lyricism lacks wit and meaning, and, at numerous points of the album, her vocal projection seems to be a duty rather than an opportunity for expression. … Until We Felt Red’s melancholic attitude creates a listening experience similar to that of hearing a poor Bob Dylan song. The event just brings you down.
Reviewed by: Dakota Mantyka
Reviewed on: 2006-08-29
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