22 year old Scottish based singer/songwriter Katee Kross is an artist we have featured twice on Belles and Gals in the past. With intelligent, thought provoking lyrics and a sound that blends several genres including traditional country, Americana and blues, she’s definitely someone who’s music ticks a lot of boxes as far as I’m concerned.
Having already independently released three albums, quite prolific output I’m sure you’ll agree, she has been back in the studio and her latest collection “Show Your Hand” which has been partly funded by Creative Scotland is due for release on 22nd February. She gave us a taste of what’s to come via the album’s lead single, the title track, a few weeks ago, a really energetic, guitar and banjo driven song which also showcases for her strong voice with its impressive range. Sonically it brought to my mind the wonderful Californian based Eve Selis, a favourite of Bob Harris, which can’t be a bad comparison!
The album’s ten songs have all been written by Katie O’Neil (that’s Katee Kross!), Ross Barron and Peter O’Neil, the trio going by the writing name OBO. Ross is Katee’s extremely accomplished lead guitar player, whose solos are definitely a stand out feature on several of the tracks. She uses session musicians in other capacities and I like the flexibility and variety this set up helps provide when it comes to the arrangements on her albums, this one being no exception. I particularly enjoyed the choice of instrumentation throughout on this release which often leans towards the trad country sound I love.
Katee appears to be the kind of artist who’s album tracks are thematically linked in one way or another, and listening to this latest collection the notion I picked up on was that these writes genre around a relationship, looked at from different perspectives and during its different stages. It remains to be seen if my thoughts align with Katee’s description but hey, songs can be open to interpretation and that’s what helps makes them interesting as far as I’m concerned!
I must say that the album has definitely been a “grower” for me, several tracks leapt out and resonated immediately but the more I listened the more I enjoyed it in its entirety. And usually that’s a good sign, hearing different things is something I really enjoy when it comes to music whether new or familiar.
So, assuming my “relationship” theory is at least in part what Katee had in mind when putting this album together, it was the tracks that focus on the break-up stage that were among my immediate favourites and remain so, I’m a sucker for a sad song and I think that the ballads here suit Katee’s vocals particularly well. The reflective “Dancing With My Past” resonated straight away, one of the slower songs with some achingly beautiful steel among the instrumentation in which Katee sings with such heartfelt emotion about “lying with my heart broken on the floor” and being unable to move on, a pretty relatable subject to many I guess.
And “Never Meant To Be Forever” really tugged at my heart strings too, although a relatively uptempo song it’s underlying message cleverly belies its happy vibe.
Of the more uplifting songs, I love the way the album sequencing sees it closing on a positive note with its final two tracks. Although “What Will Be” has a slight air of resignation, it also conveys the message of acceptance… yes, things end but it’s time to move on and look to the future. Then a brilliantly funky guitar riff introduces the album closer, the bluesy/rock infused ” Keep on Keepin’ On” , like the opener it’s sung with fantastic attack and it’s message of walking away with your head held high may refer not only to a romantic split but also to ignoring those who are criticising you… a subject which “Two Outlaws” and “Still The People Talk” both tackle in their own way, the former dreamy and atmospheric while the latter is delivered with a lot more attitude and venom.
Bang in the middle of the album, “Bumblebee” also delivers a positive message, painting a happy picture about chasing the clouds away and taking time to enjoy the simple things in life… the most light hearted and definitely the poppiest, catchiest track, a real sweet one for sure! Credited as being written “for Caiden” this is, I assume, one of the more personal tracks.
A final shout out must go to “Please Stay” , such a wistful, pleaging song and its Texas Two – Step rhythm is perfect, it really transported me across the pond to a honky tonk bar or club such as Austin’s iconic “Broken Spoke” .
Yes, this album release will no doubt appeal to Katee’s substantial fan base and hopefully with a string of shows on the horizon it will help ensure her music reaches new ears. The album launch show is at Glasgow’s Webster Theatre on 22nd February (tickets available here https://townkrossmedia.com/product/382982) and a few days later Katee travels to London for “Nashville Meets London” where I’m excited to see her perform for the first time. Other dates already confirmed are a set at this year’s Buckle and Boots Festival… further dates alongside more artist information, can be found at www.kateekross.com
‘Show Your Hand’ Track Listing
Show Your Hand
Diamonds In The Dust
Dancing With My Past
Still The People Talk
Never Meant To Be Forever
What Will Be
Keep On keeping’ On
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)