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It's finally come to put the 'Demo Of The Week' heading to pasture and replace it with 'Almost Famous - cd of the week!'. A few of the cds we get sent that we want to tell the world hey, this is great! are self-released cds, complete with a barcode. Just no label (that's why they are sending it to us).
Initialy, I didn’t really take much notice of this debut album from Brisbane singer Kate Bradley. Judging by the front picture, I suppose I was ready to pass it off as ready-made-rock - it made me think of a tough rock chick ready to take on the drunken masses at a beer barn. So I admit it: I didn’t really concentrate first time around. It then got lost amongst the pile of demos sent to Half A Cow. Tidying up the office a few weeks later, I saw it and remembered I wanted to give it another listen. There was something about Kate Bradley.
I've listened to this cd over a dozen times now. I've fallen in love with it. The bio compares her with Cat Power and PJ Harvey, who I haven't really heard enough of, but I've been listening to a lot of female singers lately (Neko Case, She & Him, Jenny Wilson and Rilo Kiley) and Kate, although rockier, is as good as those imports.
There are eleven songs (plus an ‘intro’) on The Deeper The Sand and they go from moody, bluesy introspective numbers to epic rock songs to a couple of neat pop tunes. Kate wrote and arranged all the songs, co-produced the album, plays guitar and synth and probably does the bulk of the backing vocals. And did the artwork! Apart from her voice and songwriting, it’s the arrangements that really proved to me that Kate is someone to watch out for. Although a few of the tracks have a similar guitar-and-vocal-building-up-into-full-band arrangement, overall there are plenty of different melodies and unique sounds, giving the album the variety to keep the listener entertained and enthralled throughout.
Kate is backed by two different lineups of guys playing bass, drums, guitar and organ with Ryan Booker constant on pretty much all the tracks. There is a definite ‘band’ sound throughout with special mention going to the synth, which appears on about half the songs but notably on ‘Ticket To An Oracle’. Towards the end of the album there’s bit of rifferama going on with ‘Any Day Now’ and ‘No Start/Red Light’ sounding like they came from the same womb. The album ends on a melancholic note that features a great guitar solo.
But my favourite tune is ‘Hope On This Boat’ which starts out with a lovely intro, with what I thought was an accordion but looking at the credits tells me it’s either a trumpet or synth…or both! Kate’s vocals on this track sound gorgeous with their double-tracking and there’s a wonderful guitar lick thrown in to top it off. ‘Pretty’ is a standout too, with exceptional singing and ‘Kate Bush’ oo-oohs. Not sure what most of the lyrics are about on The Deeper The Sand but they suit the music.
But wait, there’s more! What has really impressed me about Kate Bradley is her story. After playing in local Brisbane bands for a number of years and releasing a well-received EP in 2005, she has devoted herself to her music and is driven to make it more than just a passion. She self-funded this album and recently made a great impression at the SWSX music showcase in the US. No sitting around waiting for some suit to come knocking on her door! So things are starting to heat up for this talented musician and it looks like we are going to hear more from Kate Bradley in the future. – ND
update: All looking good for Kate and the band - they played the 2009 Big Day Out shows in the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Well done!