highbrowse.ie
  Twitter Facebook
  Reviews | Gig Listings
Tongue Tied
Earl Tongue Tied
Released 28 July 2017
Label BMG
Length 39:00
Genre Jazz, pop
Website earlmusic.co
68

Tongue Tied sees Alaskan born and London based Kate Earl ditch her first name and her all American pop rock sound from her previous albums to reboot her career as a Jazz centric chanteuse. While reaching back into musical history to find your voice might not be new; Amy Winehouse did it with Jazz, Duffy did it with Soul and Imelda May did it with Rockabilly, it still provides a nice alternative to over-singing pop divas. And Earl can sing; she possesses a sultry voice that can hit the high notes with ease when required, as proven with the chorus for 'Travelling Heart', without ever needing to overdo it on the vocal gymnastics.

Lyrically she flits between new love ('Since You Kissed Me', 'I Love You'), lust ('Tongue Tied') or failing love ('Smoke Rings') sometimes sincere and honest other times provocative with double entendres to raise a smile. Musically the album is pretty much on point; walking double bass lines meshed with bouncy piano lines and brass sections while backing choirs sing and skat in response to Earl’s triggers ensuring an authentic period sound.

The songs sound instantly familiar, in some cases they use well known samples with the trumpet line from 'My Woman' by Al Bowlly (better known to folks of a certain age as the sample used in White Town’s 'Your Woman') featuring prominently on 'All That Glitters'. While other times the familiarity comes from their striking resemblances to well-known pieces; 'Smoke Rings' sharing the melody with 'Habanera' from Carmen or 'In Love and War' which called to mind 'Something Stupid'. It’s inventive and catchy but just shy of the blaring brass and arrangements that Mark Ronson put together for Back to Black. Might be harsh to compare to someone who set the gold standard for the genre but when the components are there to compete it’s hard not to wish for a few tweaks that could make this a classic.

Overall, the career rebrand is a savvy move by Earl and should help her stand out from a crowded field; the gimmick garners attention but the talent behind it backs it up. It’s not quite the finished product but Tongue Tied provides sufficient evidence that Earl is definitely on the right track.

- Brian Kinsella