Sunday, January 31, 2021

Katie Knipp: “The Well” (2021) CD Review

Katie Knipp is an incredibly talented singer, songwriter and musician, with a powerful and distinctive voice. In 2018, she released an outstanding album titled Take It With You, and she now somehow tops that with her new EP, The Well. This release contains all original material, written by Katie Knipp. Katie, in addition to providing those exceptional vocals, plays piano, organ, and dobro. Joining her on this one are Zack Proteau on electric bass and rhythm guitar, Neil Campisano on drums and percussion, Chris Martinez on electric guitar, and Otis Mourning on saxophone and clarinet. There are also a few special guests, including Justin Au on trumpet and Brandon Au on trombone, on certain tracks.

The EP gets off to a great start with “Sad Eyed Lover,” a cool song overflowing with attitude. This track has a delicious pounding beat, a fantastic bluesy edge, and some rock and jazz elements. It is a thrilling song, for all these reasons, but mainly because of Katie Knipp’s vocal performance, which is fierce and sexy, a performance that indicates she is not going to take shit from anyone. “You’re a clever creature, but you ain’t got my sympathy/Sad-eyed lover, you think the world is against you.” And then that horn section! Oh yes, this is an absolutely phenomenal opening track. Katie then takes things down a few notches for the beginning of “The Gospel Of Good Intentions,” her voice here at first soothing and soulful. It is not long before she is belting out some of the lyrics, while still somehow easing us in some way. This track features a strong bass line, which at times is the main instrument supporting her, an interesting and effective choice, giving the song a sort of immediacy and putting the focus on the lyrics, on what she needs to tell us, for there does seem to be a need here. And that, as much as anything else, really draws us in. “We try to drop it, we try to drop this/But the anchor just swings in the deep/Nothing can stop this/I dive off the bow, feel the cold surround me.” And then there are wonderful touches and swells from the horns. I also like the work on keys.

At the beginning of “Better Me,” her voice is supported by a steady pounding, a raw beat that matches the raw quality of her vocal approach here. Then as the other musicians come in, there is an element of menace, of danger, and you get the feeling something could break open at any moment. A warning to watch your footing as you proceed though this territory. And there is no denying the power of lines like “Makeup on the bruises so maybe I’ll even forget” and “I’ll control the tears the way he controls me/And maybe in the morning, I’ll be a better me.”  The song ends the way it began, with that pounding beat under her vocals. “Better Me” is followed by “Chamomile And Cocaine,” obviously my favorite song title of the album. This one is a true delight, with a totally cool groove. Here she gives us a very playful and sexy vocal performance. It is also captivating, feeling like a live performance, like she is living this, sweating this right in front of us. Yes, Katie Knipp is quickly becoming one of my favorite singers. Keith Cotton joins her on organ on this track. And I love that saxophone. The EP concludes with “Bullet Train,” this one beginning more in the folk realm, with some really nice work by Mick Martin on harmonica. “Your love’s coming at me like a bullet train.” And soon the song kicks in with a good beat, driving forward into whatever may come next.

CD Track List

  1. Sad Eyed Lover
  2. The Gospel Of Good Intentions
  3. Better Me
  4. Chamomile And Cocaine
  5. Bullet Train

The Well is scheduled to be released on March 12, 2021.

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