Kate Earl is a new voice on the radio with her single "Melody" getting some serious airplay on my local stations. "Melody" is the first single released from her self-titled, big-label debut album. And though this isn't really her first CD, it's her first to get national airplay. For a young pop artist, there is some surprising heft to this album that mixes urban beats, pop sensibilities, and even a bit of soul.
Even if you don't like "Melody", I'd encourage you to take a listen to the rest of the album, which surprised me. For me, it really opened up when I heard "Golden Street," which is in the latter half of the CD.
Born in a small town in Alaska, Earl is the daughter of a Dutch/Welsh gas station owner and a Filipino mother. Drawn to music at an early age, she is mostly self-taught on piano, learning to play songs by ear. Later, as part of a choir, she gained an appreciation for gospel music and eventually she tried her hand at songwriting. As her skills developed, she began to wonder if she could make a living with her music.
With a self-recorded demo in her hands, she saved up and moved to LA with her guitar and her dreams to see where they would lead her. Her first album, Fate is the Hunter, was released when she was 23 and garnered enough attention to get her noticed by Universal Republic. Her recently-released sophomore album will garner her even more notice.
This album has a young, fresh feel to it. And though the airwaves are crowded now, I think the crunch of the last five songs makes Earl rise above the din. The first six tracks feel like a Trojan Horse driven through the gates of radio stations everywhere. But Earl's personality seems to reassert itself from "Golden Street" on.
"Melody" has received a lot of attention lately, with an innocent Colbie Caillat-like "Bubbly" vibe. For me, it blends far too quickly into the background with its syncopated rhythms. But "Golden Street," with its organ and urban beats, tells a story about a girl who's lost her faith, trying to find her way among glitz and glamour. Her lyrics don't pull any punches - "People keep saying I'm goin' to Hell if I don't change / But I sold my soul to God when I was barely eight / All of Jacob's Ladders couldn't rescue me / All because I bought that house on Golden Street."