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Cirque Du Soleil
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Patricia Barber
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Jim Pearce
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
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Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Cover Story [Issue # 22 ]
Ptricia Barber:

By Dean Truitt

...Until We Felt Red ( CD Velour )

Looking back through almost any musician’s (or band’s) catalog, one will typically find that the early material is generally superior to later work. Though there have been many debatable excpeptions to this trend, most creative types tend to repeat themselves or become complacent.

However, maverick guitarist Kaki King shows early signs of bucking such a career path. Never one to rest on her laurels, King is an artistic chameleon who somehow becomes more comfortable with each new transformation. On her third outing, . . . Until We Felt Red, King continues to build on the lustrous career she began with her debut, Everybody Loves You and expanded on her sophomore effort, Legs to Make Us Longer. The album is appropriately titled because the color red is often associated with intense passion, which flows out of each performance King delivers. From the lilting, breezy atmosphere of the title track to the haunting mood of “Goby,” King delivers a heartleft odyssey of mood and experience. King muses, “Red can imply so many very different things sexually, politically, and emotionally. The essence of this album we do things until we felt ‘red.’

In recruiting producer John McEntire (Stereolab, The Sea and Cake), she found a kindred spirit with whom she could forge new sonic terrain. Always eager to experiment with various tunings, techniques, and tones, King and McEntire jointly experimented with augemting her usual sparse acoustic sound with electric guitar, slide, bass, drums, keyboards, horns, and samples. She explains, “The writing process was done long before the album was made. There was a good amount of creative thinking and expansion in the studio. Most of these songs began as solo guitar pieces. Some were older and I never felt that they were presented in the right way through solo guitar, so I had a lot of material going into it. It was all solo and so what we did is, instead of worrying so much about the guitar sounds, I said, ‘Let’s see how this song sounds on a baritone guitar. Let’s see how this song sounds on electric.’ When you hear a sound in your head, you go and find it. There was a lot of that process, finding the right sound for the lap steel [guitar] or moving the song down in key to put on a baritone guitar.”

Known for her uncanny fingerpicking ability and percussive style she developed performing in the New York’s subways, King has radically stretched the palette of colors and textures on her latest CD. The most stunning difference is the prominent appearance of her her silky soprano throughout many tracks. Within the first moments of “Yellowcake,” King’s rolling guitar line and ethereal instrumentation support a blanket of whispery vocals conjuring swirling melodies and lyrics. She adds that McEntire balanced her more finicky tendencies and went for vibe over absolute perfection. In discussing her relative ease with adding singing duties to her growing list of talents, King asserts, “It was a very natural process. Of course, I’m a person who will sit and agonize over every sound, every vocal part, every little bit. And John is very even-tempered and would say,’ ‘It sounds good, what’s the problem? He was really like a therapist in that he would make me see clearly that in a lot of the things we were doing were just very arbitrary. I realized if it sounds good, don’t worry about it. It doesn’t have to imply anything or mean anything.”

Ranging from the stirring reflection of “Jessica,” the otherworldly presense of “Ahuvati,” and the pulsing mystery of “Soft Shoulder,” the artist’s emotional heat radiates and shifts from one moment to the next. Throughout the collection, Kaki King paints vivid images with shifting moods until the listener feels red and wants to make the journey all over again.

...Until We Felt Red

Ptricia Barber ...Until We Felt Red

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