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Kate Nash
Made Of Bricks
Fiction Records/Polydor
www.katenash.co.uk


Kate Nash belongs to that stead of female singers and songwriters which includes eclectic-pop ingénues like Lily Allen, Chan Marshall of Cat Power fame, and The Grates lead vocalist Patience Hodgson. They are alt-pop gals who are soft on the outside but have a hard candy center. Nash's debut album Made Of Bricks, produced by Paul Epworth (Muse, The Kills, Bloc Party), is filled with catchy ditties that have playground fun and school-girl hormones raging through the lyrics. Nash's music represents her nature - youthful, vivacious, and willing to jump into the deep-end with nothing but her faith to keep her afloat. She breaks ground in alt-pop schematics by brandishing bluesy hues and country-folk shades like Neko Case. Made Of Bricks has Nash's handprints all over it, like no one else can make vocal inflections with her penmanship.

"Pumpkin Soup" features sunny phases in the ska-planked horns and a cool bluesy vocal stride as Nash repeats, "I just want your kiss, boy." The vocal overdubs create a nice echo along the soft melodic loops which generating splashing waves of merriment. The gypsy-cycling of the fiddle played on "Skeleton Song" spins devilishly fast and then cools down to a relaxing calm which circles gingerly around Nash's vocals. It's rare to hear a fiddle played in anything other than bluegrass, but here the fiddle sounds so natural that you wonder why more artists don't use it. The soft-pop melody of "Nicest Thing" is reflective as Nash plaintively intones, "You're the nicest thing I've seen/ I wish that we could give it a go/ See if we could be something/ I wish I was your favorite girl/ I wish as though I was the reason you are in the world/ I wish my smile was your favorite kind of smile/ I wish that the way I dressed was your favorite kind of style…I wish you'd hold my hand when I was upset." This is one the more serious tracks on the album, while many of the others are kitschy like "Shit Song."

The tapping keyboards of "Merry Happy" have a puppet show flounce in their prance, making the tune sound like a nursery rhyme with the jangly tempo and the rhythmic saunter of Nash's vocals. The album is top-heavy in jangly movements and playful sprints like in the catchy finger-snaps braiding through "Foundations." The chord movements illuminate Nash's voice, placing the key focus on her vocal inflections, which have an uninhibited candidness. It's not the kind that means to hurt, just means to be starkly bare. The quick tempo in the piano vamp and guitar rolls of "Mouthwash" are cheerfully light-footed, while the bluesy jazz bass lines and torchlight embers in the vocal melody of "Dickhead" have a soft savory sway that makes your body move along to the grooves. The country-folk shades of the guitars on "Birds" are reposing with gently blown arcs, and the treatments on "Mariella" and "We Get On" fuse traditional commercial pop jingles lassoed in springy vocals which produce an eclectic amalgam in Nash's hands.

Made Of Bricks straddles the line between eclectic and traditional commercial pop like the type of music you'll hear in the commercials for Old Navy stores. Kate Nash is an ingénue from London, England whose pulsating vocals and alt-pop melodies are in vogue on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Her songs show her to be her own person while also embracing the music scene around her, and making her own mark on it.

-Susan Frances


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