After seeing Kate Stables and her quintet performing an intimate gig at Green Door Store last month, I was pleased to be offered the chance to review her album. Here is my track by track breakdown of the fantastically folky ‘Bashed Out’ , a triumph of what folk is meant to sound like. Produced by Aaron Dressner from The National, the album has a great overall sound, with subtly shaded soundscapes backdropping the hypnotic melodies. This album is definitely one of my favourite releases of 2015, and here is why:
Opening with a smooth solo electric guitar line and sparse background percussion, the album fades in, with the first vocal almost sounding like it’s come in too late. As the track continues, you realise that the voice and the other instruments are in perfect balance, finishing each other’s sentences like an old married couple. This track is quite simply poetry set to music.
Misunderstanding, ever so weary…
Whole’s inner patience, tattered and flapping
2. Silver John
This track reminds me of Feeder’s ‘Tumble and Fall‘ to begin with, but as the track unfolds its asymmetrical phrases and internal cadences work in parallel to four-to-the-floor bass guitar chugging along, forming quite a different creature. As with the opener Silver John is understated, a fragile whisper caught in a breeze and peacefully taken away.
3. Spores All Settling
Led in by the banjo, the procession follows in behind the vocals, which are a little bit higher in the mix on this track. Kate’s voice floats elegantly as she sings about nature, the weather and the inevitability of change in this catchy chorus-less number with a long instrumental fade out, as the parade passes out of earshot.
4. Magic Spell
The driving rhythm of Magic Spell gives this track the feeling of a popular dance track that has been covered or performed in the Radio 1 Live Lounge. I can imagine somebody like Robyn or Keisza doing a great version of these track, so if anybody knows their management, please pass the track on! As it stands, the track is an upbeat change from the previous tracks, showing a different side to the band, whilst still delivering their sound. One to listen to whilst getting ready for going out.
5. Bashed Out
The title track from the Album, Bashed Out is a simple track which for me is more of a mood piece than anything else. It has some interesting harmonic changes throughout and seems quite thought provoking at times, with obscure lines like:
Blessed are those who see and are silent.
Check out the video for the track, which was released on 27th Feb.
6. All In Cahoots
With a tribal vibe from the background drums, the clear vocals rest gently on top of this mattress of sound. The track, and the album in general has a feeling that you are being talked to individually, not en masse, and that you are witnessing a storytelling with musical accompaniment, which is a very relaxing thing indeed.
Opening like an M&S commercial, you certainly wouldn’t expect this unusual subject matter for the song based on this. Combining the literal with metaphorical, this quirky track is kind of like a slightly psychedelic homage to everybody’s least favourite head tourists, yet somehow it works.
And they’re munching up the green hill
Ripping it up ruthlessly
Lucky little fatties
Happy little fatties
Returning to the feel of the first two tracks on the album, this track hails the importance of eating healthily. Opting for a kind of refrain rather than a traditional chorus, as with most of the track on the album, the songs feel more linear rather than cyclic, a category that a lot of pop music falls into. The swells in the music and the instrumental ending remind me of the earlier track, Spores Are Settling. See a lovely live acoustic video of the track below, showcasing the close vocal harmonies and delicate finger-picked guitar.
9. We Are In
With a real distance between vocals and the percussion and sweeping synth sounds, the track feels a cappella without technically being so. The track a very spacious atmosphere which gives the voice a weightlessness quality, as if it were suspended on a trapeze high above a great canyon below. As such it draws you in, and simultaneously freezes you in space and time.
10. Cold & Got Colder
Rounding off the album with an upbeat track, made up of 3 bar 6/8 sections – for the non musos reading, that is not the norm by any means – but it feels perfectly ordinary and really works, if at times it may have you a little confused – I know I was when I first heard the song performed live.
Hook line and sinker,
I miss it so strongly
Here is a live version of the track, recorded by an audience member.