KT Tunstall – Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon Album Review  

13The first part of the album is introverted. There is a lot of sadness. The second half is a rebirth. For me, it was about letting go.

I have been a fan of KT Tunstall since her first release back in 2004, with catchy songs such as Black Horse and the Cherry Tree and Suddenly I See, she was an instant hit and her first album was a worldwide musical success. Now she is releasing her fifth studio album titled Invisible Empire// Crescent Moon Album.

Her first album Eye to the Telescope was an album that I could actually listen to over and over again, the melodies were memorable and lively and her last two albums have displayed that KT is not a one-trick –pony. On her second album KT Tunstall’s Acoustic Extravaganza she sings with conviction and truth as she shows her Indie Folk roots. Her third album Drastic Fantastic was more Folk Rock than Folk Pop and KT showed that she can take risks and differentiate herself from one genre. Her fourth album Tiger Suit was proof that she can cross the music boundaries as she placed eleven up-tempo numbers on the album.

Her fifth Studio album is a mixture of her original folk roots and her latest musical experimentations, which blends really nicely together. The album is made up of two separate sessions, with a side A and side B for division between the themes demonstrated through the lyrics.

The first track on the album titled Invisible Empire reminds me of her song Other Side of the World from her first album. The melody is light and soft with acoustic guitars and sweet piano melodies it is a classic KT Tunstall song and leaves no disappointment to the loyal fans. My favourite lyrics in this song were ‘I wear a rusting crown. I know this dynasty is falling. The crowd shouts for another round to see the ruin, the spectacular, diamonds baby. Icebergs, the minarets and the marketplaces. The signal fires of my invisible empire.’

The second song on the album is titled Made of Glass, it had a heartfelt melody and poignant lyrics which revealed the artists vulnerability. The lyrics that stood out for me were these lines in the second verse ‘Terrified, while the picture of dignity. Come eat with me, at the table of this life.’ The image behind these words is powerful and a great example of Tunstall’s song writing abilities. The song was beautifully haunting and one of my favourites on the album.

How You Kill Me is another haunting ballad that grips the raw licks present in KT’s voice, the lyrics may or may not be about the difficult revelations of her personal life ‘How you kill me/ Taking up all of my patience/ Leaving my temper a widow/ But I don’t feel like grieving/ Should I swim into the sun/ And meet you there. In the half-light’ could be the lyrics that express the feelings that surrounded the death of her father in 2012.

The fourth track on the album is called Carried and is another acoustic wonder, it’s another lyrical success with quirky lyrics leading up to another catchy refrain ‘And I’ll paint all the ways in which I feel/ Set my glories alight/ And still fight you tooth and nail but my youth is screaming/ The door never really shuts/Despite agoraphobic ifs and buts/You’re close to going through/Will you carry me too?’ was my favourite part of the song.

Old Man Song could also be about her father, with legato slides of acoustic guitar in the beginning and an upbeat and cheerful melody it then juxtaposes with the slightly dejected feeling behind the lyrics. The story behind the lyrics seems to be about an old man that is fading away, it is evident in lyrics such as ‘I sense a feeling so strange as I’m watching you change’ and ‘I’ll sit by your side, if I may. And soak in your soul’ that KT is in a situation where she has no control and can only make sense of it by being in denial. I feel that there is a strong theme of denial behind these lyrics and also a feeling of hope.

Yellow Flower is the last track on Side A of the CD and follows the same criteria as the other five tracks. Yellow Flower is both enchanting and enlightening, another acoustic three minute ballad, the song has lyrics that could have several interpretations. KT Tunstall has the ability to write lyrics that are so free and bold that every single person could take a different meaning from her words and relate it to their own lives.

Crescent Moon is the first track on the second side of the album and even though it still has an acoustic vibe, the music is slightly different from the other songs on Side A of the album. It is very instrumental based with a limited amount of lyrics but the melody carries the song beautifully and it differs from the other tracks. It definitely creates a nice contrast, especially when the instrumental pace quickens with electric guitars fuelling the melody forward. The dynamic changes a lot in this particular song but I feel that it works as a divider between Side A and Side B of the album.

Waiting on the Heart is a song that I believe belongs on Side A of the album; the listeners are eight tracks into the album before they reach the song Feel It All which is more buoyant, bluesy and bold. With lyrics such as ‘so take what you want/ Leave what you don’t need/ and I’ll go looking for you/ you keep your eye out for me/ ’cause our heart is on a wire/ Sitting pretty like a bird/ But the hunter is hunting/and the eagle is us.’

Chimes is another song that appears to be acoustic based, however I feel that the separation between Side A and Side B isn’t solely based on the differences between the different music style, it is disjointed by the meanings behind the lyrics. The first side of the album is full of poignant lyrics, you feel personally connected to the artist’s emotions. The second half of the album slackens with depth lyrically and presents an overall theme of letting go and moving on from the themes present in the first half of the album.

Track eleven is titled Honeydew and it is relaxing and cheerful, there is a flute melody that sounds similar to another one of her past songs but I can’t pinpoint the exact name of the song I am comparing it too. No Better Shoulder starts with a fingerpicking folk guitar melody and has repetitive lyrics like ‘There’s no better shoulder, there’s no finer place/ But one word of warning, you’ll never be replaced.’ The last track on the album is a bonus track for the UK release only which is another version of track nine Feel it All.

KT Tunstall discussed the meaning behind the separation of the album in a recent interview with the Irish Independent. She quoted that ‘the first batch of songs is quite melancholy. I think my subconscious was ahead of my mind in a way. By the time I was finishing it, I was a different person. The first part of the album is introverted. There is a lot of sadness. The second half is a rebirth. For me, it was about letting go.’

In the past KT Tunstall has been known for being perky and upbeat with an Indie, Pop and Country vibe. This album has brought out a more sombre KT and unveiled the writing talent that I knew she was always capable of. The album is stripped-back, no gimmicks and no fancy beats and sounds, just raw, simple vocals, with a tinge of vulnerability.

She has managed to write about the tragedies of her marriage collapsing and her father passing in such an evocative way that it pulls on your heart strings when you know the motives behind her lyrics. She has a unique gift as a singer-songwriter and being a songwriter also, I know how hard it is to fuse poetic language and idiosyncratic melodies together to create the perfect balance. Her new album is a darker direction for the singer but I believe it’s her most honest and talent-filled album yet.  5/5 stars

Written by: Emma-Jane Barlow
Company: Female First
Type of content: Review
Wordcount: 1404 words
Date: 2013
Other: Link to live content here: http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/music/reviews/album/music-296596.html?preview=2821b14a#ixzz3DmMP5Elc