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Published: 2006/08/19
by Brad Farberman

...Until We Felt Red – Kaki King

Velour Records 0604

Kaki King has come a long way.

When she released her first record in 2003, she was a female Leo Kottke, busking in subway stations and waitressing at the Mercury Lounge. Everybody Loves You was one woman and her guitar, chops unlimited.

Opening spots for Mike Gordon’s Inside In band followed. She appeared on Conan. Big things were brewing. A major label deal brought us King’s second record, Legs to Makes Us Longer, in 2004. The disc was full of King’s startling technique and compositional skills, but featured a tinge of pop that was absent from her debut. A few tunes even had drums.

Fast forward two more years to the present. King’s new release, Until We Felt Red, is fresh and different (produced by Tortoise’s John McEntire), but not the Kaki we grew to love.

Which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. But, on Red, King has traded in her solo acoustic guitar odysseys for spacey, indie-rock adventures, vocals and all on many tracks (King’s own).

So it’s unknown territory for us listeners at home, who want the old Kaki back. However, there are a number of undeniably awesome moments on the record, no matter what you were expecting. When “You Don’t Have To Be Afraid” climaxes with King cooing over the top, it brings to mind Jeff Buckley’s later work. The driving “Goby” touches on jazz, with sparkling vibes lines. The instrumental “Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers” is a churning, almost-funky close to the disc featuring King’s lap steel riffery and penchant for peculiar song titles.

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