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Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon (Deluxe Version)

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Album Review

On her Blue Note debut, KT Tunstall does a musical about face from the bright, shiny production and uptempo pop of 2010's Tiger Suit and 2007's sparkling Drastic Fantastic. Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon is a gentler, more organic collection. The split title reflects the album's linked themes of mortality (the death of her father) and the end of love (a divorce), and the two different sessions in the Tucson desert during the spring and winter of 2012 helmed by Howe Gelb. The shifting signifiers in her lyrics and the subtleties of these simple yet effective melodies required an empathic, intuitive producer who would color and highlight rather than define. He delivers big. Despite using occasional strings, steel drums euphonium, woodwinds, and even a mellotron, this is not a slick affair. In fact, it's easily the warmest, most natural-sounding record in her catalog. Despite the weighty life events that inspired the songs, this is hardly a "dark" album. It's serious and looks deep; its songs find truth in unlikely places, but they never despair. "Made of Glass" is a soulful waltz in which the protagonist reveals her weariness in grieving — but accepts it as process and transition. Colored by an elegant vibraphone, pedal steel, whistling that could have come from a Morricone score, winds, and brass, Tunstall's voice glides through the mix, embracing the tension between sorrow and waiting for its end. The single "Feel It All" — which also has a reprise "Band Jam" version as a bonus track — is spare, bluesy, desert Americana. Acoustic and electric guitars come together and separate in sultry contrast. John Parish's shuffling snare and kick drum walk it out as Tunstall expresses the wide-open, raw tenderness the heart encounters as it embarks upon a new reality fraught with dangerous possibilities. Her lyric expresses that vulnerability is not just the cost of humanity, but its gift. The vocal duet between Tunstall and Gelb on "Chimes," lovingly caressed by accordion, Spanish guitar, and reverbed strings, is the most delicate, lovely tune here. "No Better Shoulder" commences as a shimmering acoustic ballad, but evolves, becoming a vast psychedelic expanse of layered textures, warm enveloping reverb, and ambient spaces as it unhurriedly builds to a careening climax. Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon may detail the transition, loss, and confusion, but the constant thread running through this beautiful set is that the core experience of loss is necessary — and even welcome — in order to celebrate at "…the table of this life."

Customer Reviews

Sounding bonnie and superb!

Can't wait to have this album. Had a wee listen to the samples on here. hope to see you back in our Bonnie Scotland soon.

Beautiful

I watched the Later with Jools Holland performance and immediately had to download 'feel it all' and have had it on repeat ever since!! I can't wait for the album to be released :D

Upsettingly off the mark - too down tempo

I'm a die hard KT fan and have been for years but I finally think she's got album wrong, which is so upsetting as it'll be years before a new one. KT always managed to balance the light and shade in her albums with toe tapping, high energy, shower sing alongs living happily with some lovely, slower, melodic chill-outs that really show off her voice and give a great depth of feeling to an album.

I'm afraid with this one it's all far too downbeat for me. KT cheers me up and chills me out, she's a commuter go to and even a gym buddy but this album is all one energy. There are obviously some nice songs here but they all transport you to an uber chilled out day by a lake or staring at the rain. I need a bit of life in there too. I'm so sad to say I'm a little disappointed :-(

Biography

Born: 23 June 1975 in Edinburgh, Scotland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Born in 1975, Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall -- not short for anything, the KT is just an alternate spelling of Katie -- comes from the quaint university town of St. Andrews. Due in part to being adopted at birth, her imagination and creative side flourished from early on as she thought about how her life could have gone in any given direction. As she was growing up, her physicist father would take Tunstall and her brothers into the St. Andrews observatory to look at the sky, thus fueling...
Full bio
Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon (Deluxe Version), KT Tunstall
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