On 'Silent Sea' the familiar simple acoustic guitar rhythms are present and KT's...
Dan Tallis 2005
KT Tunstall intrigued me even before I heard her delightful debut album for the first time. She has Chinese heritage, but was brought up in the Scottish town of St. Andrews. There's deliciously crisp Scottish lilt to her speaking voice, which is sadly lost when she sings.
When I do finally listen to the opening tracks of Eye To The Telescope I encounter gentle melodies, unpretentious guitar motifs and softly sung vocals. It's not until the fourth track, "Suddenly I See", that the mood changes. The music is more uptempo than previous tracks; a tambourine and KT's rasping vocals add urgency and get the feet tapping.
The mood swings back again in "Silent Sea", my favourite track on the album. The now familiar simple acoustic guitar rhythms are present, but here KT's magical vocals take centre stage. The beautiful rise and fall of her voice mirrors the powerful waves she describes in the song. She sounds like she's really enjoying herself, as if released from a producer's strict direction. Her voice here reminds me of another superb songstress, Raissa, who had limited success in the late 90s.
The more electro sounding "Universe and U" brings forth Gemma Hayes to mind, while "Heal Over" recalls Sia's (Zero 7) 2004 solo effort. Herein lies the problem with KT Tunstall, her voice brings forth comparisons a plenty; Dido, Joss Stone, Nelly Furtado, Natasha Bedingfield to name a few. But all to frequently she's not distinctive enough to stand out from the crowd. The lack of vocal variation causes fatigue after a while.
This album is extremely frustrating. Some of it is magical and inspiring while other tracks such as "Under The Weather" and "Through The Dark" wash over rather than engage. However, promising signs of a new found confidence and willingness to take risks are apparent on the wonderfully joyous bonus track, "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree", which was recorded live for Later...with Jools Holland. I'm sure that if she continues to take more risks and explore her full vocal range she'll mature as very successful and special artist.