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My Advice for KT Tunstall

December 6, 2010 by  


By Rumplestiltskin,

KT Tunstall is one of the greatest performers alive today.  She has an incredible sense of rhythm, which extends far beyond keeping a beat and singing to it.  She plays guitar extremely well, and is able to feel and play to the rhythm of a song as perhaps very few can.  Her voice has the same knack of being able to play on the rhythm of a song.  When she is doing her thing and in her groove, she is a one man band who with her guitar, her loop pedal, and her voice, can entertain tens of thousands.

However, in her third album she has distanced herself from the very strengths that brought her to the fore.  The in-the-moment song playing, which she can do better perhaps than anyone else, is absent.  Her voice, without the guitar, can definitely not compete favorably with other artists singing today.  Even her guitar is not really as good, by itself, as the guitar playing of the specialists who grace the bands that compete with KT.  What she really has to contribute is her ability to bring all her power to bear on one song and spew it out sometimes better than the original—and this may be more from her driving sense of rhythm than anything else.  Her covers of I Want You Back and Aint Nobody are beyond belief.  In the same way that people KNOW that Stairway to Heaven cannot really be covered by bands other than Led Zeppelin, by the same token (perhaps to a lesser extent though) people KNEW that Michael Jackson and Chaka Khan’s work could not be redone with anything more than casual similarity to the original.  And yet KT Tunstall did it, and this may be because of the way that she wove her talents into those songs. 

Her songwriting doesn’t compete with the other bands today—to the extent that she is a great songwriter, that is only true with the instruments that she has honed, namely her voice, her guitar, and her loop pedal.  So KT, my advice is, please go back to what you know how to do.  The first and second albums were good.  Your covers are good.  Maybe do some more.  Get rid of the keyboards, get back on the guitar.  Try playing by yourself sometimes—I mean I know you’re a big rock star now and everything.  Some self-deprecating humor would be nice too.

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