from Anne Gravel-Sullivan
More than "Ready"
Released in December, 2010, Beth Kille’s first full solo album—Ready--plays to her strengths as a singer and songwriter, particularly to her ability to bring her listener in close, to share insights and the intimacy of her light, lilting voice.
Ready is beautifully engineered: many pieces have multiple layers of vocal harmonies, instrumentation and percussion that mesh into a rich background that highlights the cozy sensuality of Beth Kille’s voice. No stranger to the Indie music scene, Kille has earned several awards for her songwriting, including Madison Area Music Awards in multiple categories and a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award. Her fifth album, Ready features an ambitiously diverse set of pieces that span the blues, power rock and country ballads.
Big, Bright Beautiful world heralds Kille’s start in and love for power rock. Between 2002 and 2008, she fronted the band Clear Blue Betty from Madison, Wisconsin. What’s new here is Kille’s DiFranco-style macroscopic vocals and pointed, aggressive message. Similarly, New Vice takes Kille’s penchant for rock and pushes it toward crossover. Its synthesized warbles are reminiscent of Garbage, stretching the song’s frame into a lush background against which Doug Boduch’s heady blues riff and Kille’s contrapuntal harmonies are painted.
Ready also has its share of sweeping power ballads. Even its most classic country track, Feel My Love has an inspirational trajectory that stirs as much empathy as frustration from the listener. In Breathe Easy, the narrator turns her self-affirming musings into a heightening anthem of empowerment.
Kille isn’t afraid to experiment with sound—and does so very effectively in several tracks. In Stranded, she successfully blends harmonic vocal overdubs with a turntable to create a sensual eeriness that embodies well the unhealthy tint of obsessive love, the song’s theme.
Little Bit Drunk aligns the intimacy of the singer’s viewpoint and her delicate vocals; its occasional sparkle and hushed melodic line lull the listener into the same sweet but wistful resignation as the narrator. Simple in construction, heartfelt in its expansiveness, one of my favorites is Left to Imagination; here Kille invites her fans into her life—and their own—through multiple, familiar doors.
There is much for an eclectic audiophile like me to enjoy in this album. Cricket in the Kitchen is a delight, capitalizing on Kille’s playful delivery as well as lyrics, expanding her repertoire to include a gutsy blues mezzo. While much is made of conventional female blues singers’ ability to belt out soaring crescendos, Kille’s croon demonstrate it’s possible to return to the roots of R and B—a creative mix of fun and madness.
While the songs are diverse in construction and genre, there is a thematic strain running through them that speaks to Kille’s ability to perceive the complex vulnerabilities that make us understandable to our selves and others. Like Liz Phair at her best (Whitechocolatespaceeggs), Kille captures what the heroic lines of pop narrative do not: the quirks and foibles that make us who we are—mysteries rather than monsters.
They all speak to a kind of interiority, of perspective from a place deep in the mind, lens-close to the place through which we look at ourselves and the world. Kille’s lyrics tap into the all-too-human world of perpetuating illusions, choosing self-delusion over empowerment, and the longing that voices our deepest fears and imaginings.
The power of this album lies as much in the collection of songs as their individual execution. Kille assembled a stellar group of musicians—Aaron Williams, Brian Schiro, Jaye Barbeau, Chris Wagoner, Mary Gaines--including her husband, Tony Kille, on the drums. While there are brief moments when a couple of the songs seem over-orchestrated, they are few—and the pleasure of the diversity and bright play of the audio leave you marveling at how well Kille executes the musical risks she takes. With this album, Kille demonstrates her maturity as a musician in the orchestration of her songs, which have always been well-written –and points to the new horizons on which she has sets her sight. If Ready is an indication of the quality of work she’s capable of, there’s no doubt Beth Kille will attain those horizons in future musical ventures.
Andy Ziehli -Americana Gazette
Dec 2010 Americana Gazette Review
I have to admit that I love Beth Kille! There I said it. Beth is one of the most talented singer songwriters we have in Wisconsin. From her days with Clear Blue Betty to her solo work she never ceases to continually amaze me!
With her latest release Ready Kille comes out swinging for the stands and nailing a homerun. This CD is different than her past work. It is different because Kille gave herself permission to stretch her boundaries and it worked out wonderfully. From the soulful bluesy Cricket in the Kitchen to the fantastically written Little Bit Drunk (not what you think) this CD rocks!!! This CD is full of fantastic lyrically thought provoking songs, along with some of the best musicianship this area has to offer. Drummer Tony Kille, Guitarist Doug Boduch, Bassist Brian Shiro, and super keyboardist Jaye Barbeau make up the core band here. These talented guys sound like they have been playing together for years. Each brings his own touch to Kille’s songs. Chris Wagoner, Mary Gaines, Aaron Williams, and Jake Johnson also lend a hand here with wonderful results.
This CD is a masterpiece in content and production. Recorded at Paradyme Studios in Madison it is world class. Jake Johnson who Kille has worked with in the past shows here why he is one of the top producers in Wisconsin. Never over producing or layering songs with unneeded tracks, Johnson has helped Kille create a masterpiece. Outstanding tracks include Breath Easy, Cricket in the Kitchen, Little Bit Drunk, New Vice, and the beautifully written Lovebird.
Beth Kille is a force to be recorded with in Wisconsin Music. Heck in Midwestern Music. I hope that this CD really takes off for her. It is a wonderful collection of well written songs that needs to be heard and played outside of Southern Wisconsin!!! Kille deserves a greater following and hopefully Ready will gather her that.
Beth my hats off to you!!! Like I said 10 years ago “if this solo thing does not work out for you, you can always come back and play with us again.” I don’t think that will be happening any time soon! Go buy this CD! Hell, buy two of them!!! It’s the best from the best!!!