By Amy Obarski
Breaking away from her usual finger-style slap guitar, Kaki King delivers a tour de force of intense, musical elements in her fifth, full length album, Junior. Die-hard Kaki fans may be unsettled by this musical shift, but the change is far from disappointing. With the help of two multi-dimensional instrumentalists, Dan Brantigan and Jordan Perlson, King embarked on a new form of recording that made her feel “like a little kid or a novice.”
Brantigan and Perlson’s influences helped King format her album around her interests in Cold War novels, espionage and even double-identities. The first track of the album, “The Betrayer,” is even about Eddie Chapman, a spy during WWII who turned the tables on the Nazis and switched his life of espionage to the Allies. Musically, the song begins with a simple guitar riff that crescendos during the first verse, all the while preparing for the climax of the refrain.
Lyrically, while each song emphasizes its own theme, there is heavy repetition within each track textually, which seems to reinforce the meaning of the song as well as the structure of the album. This phenomenon is highlighted in “Falling Day,” in which the title of the track is repeated, most frequently at the end, along with the words, “Everyone comes from somewhere else/Everyone stays alone.”
In terms of genre, almost any lover of good music can find something that he or she finds pleasurable about this album. Kaki King does a wonderful job providing a diversity of songs that span from prog rock, to punk, to folk and indie pop. This variation supports her inspiration for the album overall in that, like espionage, one must take on a number of different guises to complete a mission.
If Kaki King is not a name with which many people are familiar, Junior is undoubtedly the album that should draw in new listeners.
Amy Obarski is a cinema and photography major who coo coo for Kaki. Email her at email@example.com.