Some of you may recall my review of the fantastic London gig by UK’s Azalea’s Ashes last year….. Talia Simone and Kelly Lee had taken time out from their music to raise families but were back with avengeance, and the fact that they were writing and performing together again made me very excited to see what the future held for these very talented friends and musical collaborators (https://www.bellesandgals.com/2019/06/14/azaleas-ashes-at-westfield-house-london-13-june-2019/ )
A name change to K.T Rose And The Wild Thorns was part of this re-emergence, and the ladies found some like-minded musicians to take the band (which they describe as “retrotwangcountrycool”) forwards into 2020 and beyond.
Among these musicians was the insanely talented lead guitarist Nick Powell who had joined them at the aforementioned gig… he dubbed Talia and Kelly as his own Everlys… and his encouragement as well as his playing was an integral and important part of their next project, the EP “The Karma” , which began to take shape. Demos of the six tracks were recorded, rehearsals and live performances were in full swing and the band were getting ready to re-record the EP when fate stepped in… .not only did covid-19 prevent the band coming together but also cruelly robbed them and Nick’s family of someone very special and pivotal to the project.
Although Nick’s idea to try analogue recordings of the tracks to get the “authentic feel the songs deserve” didn’t happen (Talia and Kelly felt that finishing and releasing the recordings without him would be a joyless task) rather than just sit on the demos it was decided that Nick would have wanted them shared with the people he loved, and consequently they have been made available free of charge for everyone to enjoy via this link.
Even in unfinished format, which already sounds pretty authentic to me, it’s immediately evident that this is a fantastic collection of original songs… it would definitely had been a sin had they not been shared with the world! The writing, playing and incredible vocals, both lead and harmonies, are all of the highest quality and a joy from start to finish. From the opening toe-tapper “Break Through” which is all about getting through tough times ( so relevant these days of course ) the listener is transported to a traditional honky tonk… you can visualise the less than salubrious setting where the bar’s colourful characters are being entertained by the band and can almost taste the beer and whisky. The next track, the gentle break-up song “Wasting My Time”, has all the heartbreak of a Patsy Cline recording, both lyrically and in the vocal delivery, and if like me you are a fan of a murder ballad then you’ll love “Texarkana”, its lilting melody lulling you into a false sense of security before the sting at the end, no you must never underestimate a woman scorned! The guitar riff of the title track “Karma” , about a cowardly critic “hiding behind your curtains and blinds” getting their comeuppance, sounds like it comes straight out of a classic western film (think “Ghost Riders In The Sky”) while “Gas Lighting” has gal power attitude in abundance…. as the title suggests it is written about manipulation within a relationship which thankfully backfires and ends up “igniting the fire” in the victim. The final track “Forget It” is the most light hearted, a really fun song about self medicating in a variety of forms as a coping mechanism… the line “clutching onto plastic straws” put a big smile on my face for sure and is just one example of how Talia and Kelly’s writing subtly helps bring their songs bang up to date. This one actually reminded of Margo Price, i wonder if any of you get that vibe too?
I hope this EP gets the recognition it deserves, please feel free to share it far and wide, and maybe when gigs are eventually possible we will get to hear these songs performed live… it would be a very emotional undertaking for all involved I am sure but what better way to celebrate the legacy left behind by a man who put so much hard work and love into this wonderful music?