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Album Review

Any album with the bold back cover slogan "Finally, a dyke album for the whole family!" has to have its heart and head in the right place, and happily said album confirms that fact. The tradition of lesbian acoustic folk was long established, but in keeping with Kaia's roots in riot grrrl, she brings a new kick to the field: an assertiveness and energy that sparkles. It doesn't hurt at all that she's got a great singing voice, quietly sassy and smart in tone, just like her lyrical ruminations on love and life. She's got a good ear for an attention-grabbing core phrase, thus "run another test on me" from "Test" or "Hmpphh" and its stark kiss-off "it's not so hard looking into your eyes/it's not so hard knowing you hate me." "Julie of the Wolves," based on a kid's book character she loved from her youth, is one of the best literary mash notes you'll hear. She mixes her enjoyable acoustic guitar playing (keep an ear out for her extra flourishes) with some gentle electric chimes here and there, the resultant variety further spiked up by her occasional self-overdubs on vocals. The quick intensity suggests a full band would do a great job with the songs, but her playing makes them as sharp and strong as they need to be. There's a great guest turn on violin from a friend (Brendan, whoever he might be!) on "Statue," an attractive extra touch, while her landlady, to quote the liner notes, Denk adds fine harmonies on a couple of songs. The whole album is just a dream as a result, and the idea that Kaia should have been headlining Lilith Fair — and a lot of other festivals — is a good one to keep in mind. From the sound of the album, she would have deserved it.


Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Kaia, whose full name is Kaia Wilson, was rhythm guitarist for the Oregon-based queercore band Team Dresch before striking out on her own as a solo artist. She also is a member of another queercore outfit, the Butchies, and formerly she was part of Adickdid. With Tammy Rae Carland, she co-owns Mr. Lady, a record label based in Durham, NC, where the Butchies are also based. The label issued Kaia's Ladyman CD in 1998. The...
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Kaia, Kaia
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