ALBUM REVIEW: KT Tunstall - "Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon"
KT Tunstall first emerged back in 2004 with her critically and commercially successful album “Eye To The Telescope”. In the almost 10 years since storming the charts both sides of the Atlantic KT has released two further albums with varying success. Her last, “Tiger Suit” had her move in a more electronic direction working alongside pop genius Greg Kurstin which saw her receive her lowest sales to date. Since then KT has had to deal with different troubles in the form of the death of her father and end of her marriage, which go some way to explain the change in sound with her latest effort “Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon”.
The album opens with one of the title tracks “Invisible Empire”, a quietly shuffling, melodically rich track which houses KT’s voice in a way I’ve never heard from her before. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, signaling a subtler, warmer approach from the Scottish singer. The second track “Made Of Glass” is one of my personal favourites. Seemingly touching on the breakdown of her marriage, KT sings, “Fire me in an oven, until I go hard enough to deal with losing you.” One of many lyrical high points on the album. The bluesy, country tinged song sounds like the soundtrack to a night around the campfire somewhere in middle America- which may have something to do with the album being recorded in Arizona with Howe Gelb of the band Giant Sand. For those of you who are scared by the very mention of KT Tunstall and a campfire, don’t be alarmed, as this one almost sounds like an Adele track!
Much like Adele, KT has really found a way to harness her emotion in a way that allows us all room to impose our very own stories in between the lines of her songs. For the first time KT’s allowed room in the production to allow us to really appreciate her exemplary songwriting skills. And it’s not just her pen game that shines through on this album, but also her huge talent as a singer. On “Crescent Moon” she delivers a truly beautiful vocal weighted in real emotion, assisted by equally thoughtful production. I love how I feel like I can hear the creek of a chair in the beginning and the way the strings sound so close. Another stellar cut.
There’s definitely a different side to KT on display here. Dealing with the loss of a loved one and breakdown of a marriage isn’t easy and KT doesn’t try to convince us otherwise. But something about the album doesn’t feel like it’s being delivered by a woman on the cusp of a breakdown. Unlike many of her contemporaries she’s managed to craft a body of work that sounds like a strong, capable woman navigating her way through the ever changing terrain life seems to be placing in her path. Whether it’s her vocal choices or lyrical content, she sounds more confident than ever and in a situation more exposed than she’s ever been. With no hugely successful single to lead the project (“Feel It All” does have a beautiful video though) it’s shaping up to give her modest start to the album campaign. I’m going to pray for a big TV performance (where she hopefully starts crying - tears work!) or maybe an in depth interview about her divorce which could go some way to broadening the reach. Either way I urge you to take a listen to this one. It’s a truly tender, tempered album and not necessarily one I was expecting to like so much. Try it, you might (will) like it!