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David Kitt is currently making waves on both sides of the Irish Sea (with apologies for the pun). In fact, the waves he made in his native Ireland were large and are only just subsiding, with this very album having spent an unseemly time on top of the Irish album chart, making Kitt a star in Ireland into the process. Elsewhere in Britain, he is still relatively unknown, but, given the rapturous reception his gigs and releases have been met with, that’s probably not going to be the case for long.
His voice comes across like that of a young Van Morrison, though with only the occasional twinge of the Irish accent. It is an engaging voice which (as you might expect) complements his songs perfectly. Already on to his third album (or second, if you don’t count ‘Small Moments’, his 2000 mini album on Rough Trade), Kitt’s songs demonstrate a deep understanding of what makes a good tune, and the production is slick and polished.
Lyrically, it is a very homely album, the very first lyrics being, “I’m in love with a girl/ the funniest girl in the world”, a wry appropriation of the words of Big Star’s Alex Chilton. Much of the album is in a similar vein, in terms of sentiment, but it doesn’t go so far as to be grating or mawkish. He is currently being talked about as “the next David Gray”, a tag which probably alludes more to his potential future success than his musical style.
He is an adventurous songwriter, and several tracks on ‘Square One’ are somewhat more avant-garde than you might expect on a relatively mainstream album such as this. The intro to third track, ‘Tonic’, is made up of ambient electronic sounds, before segueing into a more conventional keyboards and drums setup, although even in the main section of the song, the unexpected fuzz-bass part adds to the interest.
Live, too, he is known for experimentation and innovation, as well as a string of unlikely cover versions, including Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ as well as versions of songs by Pat Benatar and the Velvet Underground.
‘Square One’ was recorded last year and the year before at Black Box Studios in France’s Loire Valley, an outfit packed with old-school recording gear, including equipment owned and used by Curtis Mayfield and Ike & Tina Turner (as well as cod-rock band Survivor, when recording their Rocky soundtrack song, ‘Eye of the Tiger’). Kitt says this environment was “a real inspiration”, and it shows through here, both in the general quality and warmth of the songs, as well as in occasional flashes of sixties melodic sensibility in the songs – ‘Me And My Love’ is a perfect example, being a distinctive distillation of the soul standard ‘(You) Got What I Need’. And ‘Faster and Faster’, recorded while Kitt and his wife were on honeymoon in New Orleans, features the talents of the 60s swamp pop grounp Lil’ Band O’ Gold.
This is an unashamedly uplifting album, brimming with country wisdom, and oddball takes on old-fashioned sentiment, such as on ‘House With Trains’, in which Kitt sings that “You will never be lonely/in a house with trains”. The album closes with a brace of longer tracks which melt neatly into squalls of feedback and overdriven guitars, and ‘Hold Me Close’, a kind of lullaby for the end of the album.
Sweet but never saccharine, polished but not overproduced, and packed full of catchy songs, ‘Square One’ is a joy to listen to and a remarkable record from a man we will, surely, be hearing much more from in the future.
Commenting On: Square 1 by David Kitt
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Homely, but totally engaging third album from Irishman David Kitt, now making waves on both sides of the Irish Sea
Much acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter David Kitt has recently released a collection of cover songs, 'The Black and Red Notebook'. On the eve of a British tour, he chats to Anthony Dhanendran about it and his four album career
The Nightsaver - CD
Stylish sixth album and first set of studio recordings in three years from Dublin-based singer-songwriter, David Kitt
Not Fade Away - CD
Diverse and pleasant singer-songwriter pop from David Kitt, Rough Trade's answer to Leonard Cohen
Black And Red Notebook - CD
Patchy covers album from the much acclaimed David Kitt, which, while remaining worth listening to, also proves to be heavily flawed
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