CD: Love Loud
By Les Reynolds
Kiki Ebsen's second release "Love Loud" is about as close to perfect as any recording can get. You'd spend days, weeks, trying to pinpoint anything that fell short of excellent -- and even that would be a stretch. Even the cover and interior liner notes art and photos are good. Most noticeable elements are Kiki's voice, her piano playing and the guitar of Nick Kirgo. Oh, the lyrics are well crafted, too, but sometimes Kiki's nice soprano takes you away from the words. Well, ok, maybe there IS something amiss here, but her sultry, soothing and earthy vocals are so good, you don't even care that she's quite the clever wordsmith. (But you'll eventually notice, that's for sure.) Right away, the opener "Nobody," sets the tone. With Kiki's smoky and sometimes breathy voice supported by her stylistic keyboards, Kirgo joins in with crisp, smooth play -- and all with impeccable timing. They play off each other so well it's as if they've been bandmates for years. Kiki, a daughter of the famous actor Buddy Ebsen, comes by her talent honestly and sounds like a trained
"gut" player on piano -- all the technique and fundamentals down pat, but, like the guitarist, knows just when to punch, when to stroke and when to pull back. Not a note is wasted. Neither are the words:
"You lay oh so close separated by oceans And the realization she's switched Her allegiance and devotion To somebody else And all that you built, And all that you worked for She just gave away for nothing But nobody loved her more...No one but you..."
Kiki caresses the words, making them sweet as honey but nevertheless poignant and sensitive. And at times, her finesse gives way to powerful emotion, bringing out the Carole King influence in her. Actually, all the tunes are artfully crafted and produced, but there are definite highlights. "Fire," for instance, displays gorgeous vocal harmonization and great lyrics:
"Trapped inside your anger Where no woman could hold you down I stoked the flames of passion From these coals upon the ground I used to hold you to my breast but it's too hot now
So I'll fight fire with fire..."
Things continue to heat up a bit on the next tune "Angry Young Soul," a soft rolling, rocker featuring that electric guitar again, great rhythm and percussion (Mark Browne and Brian Zsupnick) and underneath it all, Kiki's piano.
She lives up to her first name on the bouncy, kicky "End of the Road," with added effects of violin and cello from Alwyn Wright and Cameron Stone.
The entire CD, from start to finish, is so compelling and well-done that it's like a great suspense novel -- you can't put it away. Or, to paraphrase that potato chip commercial -- nobody can give this just one listen. You'll be hooked from the first song.