And sometimes the wind

This Is The Kit by Oliver Peel

It took a little time for me to get my ears around it, but it was well worth the wait.  I doubt few if any sets of music in 2010 will have bettered This Is The Kit’s Wriggle out the restless for managing that rare trick of being both exact and loose at the same time.  It’s – dare I say it – perfect, but organic.  Immaculately produced by Jesse Vernon, it has the same space and natural richness as the records presided over by Joe Boyd, with nothing unnecessary added.  Kate Stables’ words too are precisely pruned, until all that remains is what needs to be there, so that these vignettes of nature, love and birth somehow manage to be both impressionistic and pin-sharp.

None of which would be worth saying if between being exacting and limber, her music and melodies were not as fluid and beautiful as they are.  I’ve already raved about ‘Moon’ but every song here has either a lilt and a calming air, or a swell and a rush of wind to it.  ‘See here’ is of the latter kind, rising up on rough and sinewy guitar, and falling back to Kate’s default softness.  ‘Spinney’ also rises up, this time on a wider, orchestral bed of sound, and takes the same kind of undulating melodic path as ‘Moon’; neither outstay their welcome, both demand endless repeat plays.

It’s not really folk, though there are songs idiomatic of folk, and it’s not really pop, though there are pop songs.  And when ‘Earthquake’ rumbles in with its groove and riff, you might even call it rock.  Of course it’s not really rock either.  But everything is on a surer footing than Kate’s first LP, Krülle bol, which in the light of Wriggle out the restless plays like a development on the road to what’s coming next, though in itself it’s a sparse and melancholy joy.

The songs come so naturally from her lungs that it’s tempting to think they must have been written in five minute flashes.  But perhaps it’s craft that makes it look that way, given the time between the recording of this long player and the last.  Here’s hoping the next one comes that much quicker.

You get an excellent sense of that perfect fit between songwriter and song – and what a great performer Kate is – from the videos below of two songs shot in Paris by La Blogothèque.  She’s playing live in February; if you’re lucky, somewhere near you.

Photo by Oliver Peel


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