John Book/Music For America
A fantastic album everyone should listen to. Mandatory listening.
They aren't from the country that is mentioned in their name, but Kate Tucker & The Sons Of Sweden play the kind of bittersweet pop music that will be adored by fans in Sweden, as well as in Ohio, where Tucker is originally from (she now calls Ballard, Washington home). Their self-titled debut (Red Valise) is an example of how to do good, hearty pop music with an edge that doesn't make them less accessible, yet almost by default (i.e. because they're on an indie label) they may not be exposed to a wider audience. This is the 21s century, so with luck that mentality will change, and I feel that people who take in Tucker's music will be changed in a positive way too.
When I got this CD, the cover was covered with a sticker so there was a mystery as to how the cover looked. The easy way to remedy this was to do a Google search, but I'm from the old school where I have it in my hands, I want to see and absorb before and while I listen. The sticker was removed and I see Tucker standing and staring into the lens while embracing her guitar. Maybe it's the stance of that embrace or the glance, but it immediately set a tone for what I was about to hear, the type of edgy pop that fans of The Cranberries, Sarah McLachlan, or even Lush. will find a joy to listen to. While there is a folk quality to most of the album, and maybe that comes from the a Byrds-ish sound coming in and out of these tunes, that doesn't really shine through until the album'sclosing track, "In The End". The song could fit in the No Depression/Americana bins, a bluesy folk ballad where she sings about how "in the end, statues fall, nothing remains, birds fly away/stay you'll stay with me, I'm going to California where it's warmer, no one's been with me, and nobody knows me like you". One can almost imagine the leaves on trees turning from green to orange and yellow, falling into the air as the weather changes, and as a metaphor for life it touches on what we lose and what we hope to gain from the loss of the seasons and time. It's the kind of song I could hear Grey DeLisle or Jennifer Nettles cover, with the hopes that Taylor's version will get the recognition it deserves.
The entire album is also deserving of recognition, whether it's the travel by the seat of the airwaves in "On The Radio", the struggle of anxiety and anticipation in "The First Day Of The Year", or simply longing for the warmth only she and a lover knows. I'm not sure if I'm hearing this right, but the album almost seems to work backwards. The entire album goes through a lot of different emotions, but it's paced differently and only until you reach the end does one realize that the album begins at the end, and the album ends at the beginning with "In The End". Maybe it's to suggest that with every end there's a beginning, or maybe I'm hearing it wrong. Regardless, Kate Tucker & The Sons Of Sweden are a band worth hearing because no matter what direction they direct you to, it's still about movement and being moved.