Review : Kat Edmonson - Way Down Low
PopmattersSince her performance on the second season of the Fox hit show American Idol, Kat Edmonson has performed with Willie Nelson, opened for Smokey Robinson, toured with Boz Scaggs and headlined at the Taichung Jazz Festival in Taiwan. Self-released by her former label Convivium Records, Edmonson’s first album Take to the Sky debuted at number 21 on Billboard’s jazz charts and rose into the top 10 for jazz radio. Now, Kat Edmonson has become a darling of contemporary jazz music, working with producers such as Al Schmitt (Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke) and Phil Ramone (Bob Dylan, B.B. King and Paul McCartney) on her latest release.
With a refined talent, Kat Edmonson gives listeners dreamy pop melodies mingled in old time jazz tunes on her songwriting debut and sophomore album Way Down Low. Released by Spinnerette Records, the album proves this former American Idol contestant’s adept understanding of music and culture as she muses from a ragbag of artists including Joni Mitchell, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Billie Holiday.
Dessert first is a good policy for some and is certainly a satisfying beginning to this record. Like creamer in you morning coffee, “Lucky” is a light, dreamy, pop song performed with very few instruments, mainly a marimba and Edmonson’s coy and playful vocals. As saccharin as bubblegum and as shiny as a new penny found heads up, this song made its premiere on the Showtime seriesUnited States of Tara. It is also not surprising that it was used in a Serta mattress commercial. “Life is just a dream,” Edmonson sings in the chorus—the perfect soundtrack to a great day with visions of rainbows, marimba patters, and rolling riffs of “oohs” and whistling.
The album’s title comes out of the second track “I Don’t Know”, and put into context, the words “way down low” will make you blush no matter how uninhibited you may be. Seductive, yet bashful, this frisky song is filled with soft, folk guitar strums, sunny electric riffs and rumbling deep snare rhythms, all set against a rich strings backdrop. Here, Edmonson’s vocals are a fair match to Joni Mitchell on songs such as “California” and “Big Yellow Taxi”....full text
BostonKat Edmonson came out of nowhere in 2009 and released one of that year’s best albums, “Take to the Sky,” a delicious collection of rearranged standards and pop songs turned into jazz. Most remarkable was that the little-known Texan with the stunningly sweet voice had never had any training.
The buzz over that album and her performance at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival led to a coveted slot at George Wein’s New York Jazz Festival. And when Edmonson began raising money to record her sophomore album, she attracted some major attention. Phil Ramone, who has produced such stars as Billy Joel and Paul Simon, signed on to help, as did Grammy-winning engineer Al Schmitt....full text
PastemagazineThe delicately effortless quality of Kat Edmonson’s voice makes her sophomore album, Way Down Low, what could be considered easy listening, but its romantic, vintage sound warrants closer attention. Hints of Billie Holiday and a jazzier Feist make Edmonson’s songs feel familiar.
From the more classic jazz-club piano in “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” to the Latin-influenced acoustic guitar and percussion in “What Else Can I Do,” Edmonson’s album has a degree of diversity, even with her classic voice staying true to its wistful style.
The duet with Lyle Lovett on “Long Way Home” provides a nostalgic vocal contrast while remaining soft and sweet. These are the kind of tracks that evoke an older time in jazz and pop music history, but would also undoubtedly be used in a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie circa 1990. Edmonson’s in good company, though—Harry Nilsson has often been a staple in romantic comedy soundtracks.
Houston native Edmonson has performed with Willie Nelson and opened for Smokey Robinson. Her sound isn’t necessarily indicative of her Texas roots, but it complements the genre with an equal focus on lyrical nuance....full text
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