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Sound Of The Morning is a syrupy, snappy and surprising second outing from Katy J Pearson

"Sound Of The Morning"

Release date: 06 August 2022
Katy j pearson sound of the morning art
05 August 2022, 00:00 Written by Paul Williams

On her sophomore album Sound Of The Morning, with ubiquitous indie producer Dan Carey at the mixing desk, Bristolian singer-songwriter Katy J Pearson seeks to shrug off the “country” label so freely attached to her 2020 debut Return, with some fascinating results.

It is Pearson’s voice that is the true star of this album – bearing a folk-y sensibility but with no hint of the feyness that defines a lot of her contemporaries. It is a piercing but mournful sound with all the sugar content of Dolly Parton, but also the startling sharp edges of early Dylan.

The album is at its best when Pearson’s instrument is allowed to take centre stage, and, by and large, her talent for a beguiling melody is best revealed through the sparser arrangements; the title track lets its bucolic, slightly trippy lyrics bloom under a simple guitar figure and twinkling synths, whilst on the bravely understated “The Hour”, Pearson’s voice trills and climbs with spellbinding effortlessness over a stately acoustic guitar. At its best, it calls to mind the most exciting of her forebears- the fiercely controlled pipes of Joanna Newsome, perhaps, or even Stevie Nicks’ witchy melisma.

Elsewhere the production crowds the melodies somewhat, and slightly too often the songs puff up into a Travis-esque expansiveness, all soaring synths and reverbed guitars, and for an artist whose main selling point is their singular voice, this seems like a mis-step.

This is not to say that her ambition doesn’t pay some big dividends, however, and there are some genuinely very neat surprises on this record; the ABBA-esque acapella rhythm that kicks off “Game Of Cards”, for example, or the way the swampy, Fender-Rhodes country of “Howl” transforms into a stew of squelching synths and parping horns, like aliens invading a cornfield.

Recent single “Alligator” is also huge fun, its crunchy, arch groove and frazzled lyrics (“Got my dress caught in the tube door/ Step in vomit on the floor”) wittily conjuring the onset of a panic attack.

It is on the album’s standout track “Confession”, however, that offers the most exciting glimpse of what Pearson could be; frantic and elusive, hinting vaguely at some unnamed trauma (“It was a long long time ago when it happened”), all the instruments seem slightly out of true, a disconcerting jumble of textures and tempos, like a blearily summoned memory. Ending with a frenetic plea to “React, react, react”, it shows both a talent for restrained, allusive lyricism, and a jagged, muscular musicality that really haunts.

The album ends with a cover of Paul Giovanni’s “Willow’s Song”, originally written for The Wicker Man. Transforming the folk classic into dreamy Krautrock, she sings “The things I’ll show to you”. On Sound Of The Morning, Pearson proves she has much to show us, and should be recognised as a folk singer of real promise and singular talent.

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