Confidential to Total Strangers: Shut Up
I oughta warn you, the next voice you hear will be that of a fanatic. Forewarned is forearmed, right? OK. So pretty much my favorite artist these days is Kaki King. She can do no wrong in my eyes. I listen to her through headphones when I'm in a dressing room, or in a hotel room, or on an airplane, or in a radio station's waiting room. I am not the kinda guy who goes through periods of listening to only one artist, but if I kept an Audioscrobbler page for my iPod, it'd probably show Kaki King crushing all competitors by about 3:1. (Except for maybe Dionne Warwick & the Stylistics, who've both gotten a lot of play since December.)
Ms. King recently severed ties with Sony, and has been vocally happy about in recent performances. She's also been vocal in recent performances, period: prior to recent shows, she was an "instrumental artist," to use a puzzling catalogue descriptor. Of late, she's taken to singing - one Smiths cover and one Morrissey cover on the live shows I've got. (Yes. That is the level of she-is-Godness I am all up on at this point: I've got live shows that I listen to, since I can recite the albums from memory.)
Online, where people are quick to post extemely thoughtful one- and two-line reviews of things they've only listened to once or twice through crappy computer speakers, some Kaki fans have taken to hating on Kaki's vocals. I don't know if these are tech-head types who want singers to be quasi-operatic diva types or what, but whatever's motivating these dudes, they are dead wrong and should maybe try listening in different ways. Kaki is a wonderful and affecting singer who would be entirely without pretension if she didn't occasionally fall into the young singer's trap of Brit-ifying words, which probably only happens 'cause she's singing songs written by English people. Her cover of "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" is like a great calm sea of sadness, and I could listen to it for hours on end and never get tired of hearing her sing it, all plaintive and hesitant and half-hopeful. (So far my record for listening to this particular track non-stop is an hour and fifteen minutes. It was awesome.) She is just beginning to explore her voice, and great things will come of it. So please: if you're hating on Kaki King's recent forays into singing, keep it to yourself. Just pipe down and listen to the instrumental stuff some more. I think she's heading toward exciting places, and I'd hate to see her discouraged.
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