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CD Review: KT Tunstall – Eye to the Telescope

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Every year, the hipsters of the world find a mainstream artist, usually female, who they all simultaneously decide to love. It’s a tradition based on a deceptively simple principle: the songs by this artist of choice might not be that great or original, but damn, are they catchy. Last year’s queen of pop crossover was of course the first ever American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, whose “Since U Been Gone” could be heard pouring out of everyone’s car windows during the summer of 2005. Even people who claimed to never listen to the radio knew the lyrics to that song; and even if they didn’t, the melody was so catchy they could at least pretend to know them. But what does everyone’s favorite all-American girl have to do with Scottish newcomer K.T. Tunstall? Quite simply, while none of the tracks on Tunstall’s debut album Eye to the Telescope are as addicting as Clarkson’s tracks, she has what it takes to make pop music that sells and sticks out from the crowd. Whether she can fulfill this potential, however, remains to be seen.

Tunstall’s biggest asset is her voice. Her lyrics, while thankfully shying away from the angst which has proven the downfall of many a talented singer, still aren’t all that inspired; but in songs such as “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” she sells them. There’s no doubt – simply a raw hoarse fire that tells us this woman relishes every moment she’s singing. The only problem is, there is no middle ground for Tunstall; when the tough fire disappears from her voice, all that’s left is another Sarah McLachlan wannabe. It would be nice to hear some mainstream female singers who experiment with their vocals; I’m not asking for the vocal cacophany of Yoko Ono. I’m just asking for some risks.

Honestly, though, this is a very pleasant CD. And if I were perhaps twenty-five years older or ten years younger, I would really enjoy it. But, the music behind Tunstall’s vocals is so bland that nothing really grabs me. Aside from her voice, there’s no fire or passion or anything to make this vocalist stand out from the rest of the crowd. But if you have a mom or a little sister who wants to get into a new, inoffensive artist who will interest them and perhaps will be a gateway artist to more interesting musicans – or maybe just a Stylus-reading friend looking for a new guilty pleasure – then go out and buy them Eye to the Telescope. Trust me, they’ll thank you.

Reviewed by Megan Giddings

This review is also posted on The Modern Pea Pod.

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  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/cmpwrite/ Connie Phillips

    Editor’s note: This article now has another venue for success – and more eyes – at the Advance.net Web sites, a site affiliated with about 12 newspapers.

    One such site is here.

  • Jami

    BIG BLACK HORSE AND A CHERRY TREE ROX~!!!!~!!!!!!~!!!!!!!

  • Katie

    KT Tunstall has got more talent than any female vocalists out there. She is not a pop princess but original and fresh! I enjoy her music immensly and I must say I disagree with anyone who bashes her music, and talent. She is awesome! I hope she wins at the Grammys next year you Rock girl!

  • RichardC

    I guess it just wouldn’t be cool for a wannabe reviewer to admit that KT is just damn good, and that her songs are too? How the f$%k can you even mention the prefabricated hollowness of Kelly Clarkson in the same sentence without blushing?

    If I were you, I’d stick to writing about makeup or something equally vacuous…writing about music stretches your talent a bit too far.