LondonNet Music Guide: Album Review

KT Tunstall - Eye to the Telescope

KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall's biography on her web site describes her as 'a sparkling new songwriter with Chinese blood, a Scottish heart, great legwarmers and a cool name.' Opting for KT instead of the painfully average Katie, the multi-instrumental Tunstall seems to be striving to not be considered ordinary.

"I'm pretty certain that I learned how to sing because someone gave me an Ella Fitzgerald tape - she was my singing teacher," she claims in her website biography. Although a noble cause, one wonders which young, female pop/rock artist doesn't claim something similar these days.

Her debut album, the 12-track Eye to the Telescope, that saw her whittle down a catalogue of over 100 songs, can be seen as a hit-and-miss in this department, with a few songs standing out while others get lost in the proverbial fog of normalcy.

Tunstall's mix of pop, folk, and blues begins with the welcoming Other Side of the World, a consoling compilation of a long-distance relationship that doesn't seem to be working. It provides an interesting opening, although the quality of the disc drops off until the fourth and best track, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.

Winner of Best Track at the Q Awards, Black Horse takes the album up a notch to a frenetic pace compared to the previous songs. You can feel Tunstall's passion in her voice as she sings about a lost love, 'But it won't come back coz it's oh so happy and now I've got a hole for the world to see.' This is a song not to be forgotten, possibly providing a glimpse into the direction Tunstall really wants to go.

Most of the rest of the album goes back to average as the songs begin to blend together like a monochromatic colour scheme. Silent Sea drifts into Universe and U which falls helplessly into False Alarm. All three are causes for glazing eyes, boring the listener into thinking about the day's shopping list. If you're not listening closely, you may think you accidentally put your player on repeat. Still, the anthemic pop of Suddenly I See is an abrupt lift, showing Tunstall's penchant for creating a hook that gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Heal Over also provides a nice break, its simplicity of Tunstall's earthy tone and an acoustic guitar as soothing as a warm blanket.

Eye to the Telescope has been compared with the likes of Dido, Joss Stone, and Sheryl Crow, a fact that Tunstall would probably like to ignore. While the skip-worthy mediocrity of some of the tracks is hard to get past, it doesn't distract too much from the lustrous songs that carry the disc, allowing Tunstall the ability to stand out among the bright new faces of contemporary radio music.

Brandon Morgan