Kate Stables’ project This Is The Kit has a new album out, and it is a beautiful and multi-angled thing, with instrumentation and production (by John Parish) that moves lightly around Kate’s songs. Moonshine Freeze feels playful and fleet-footed without being lightweight, making it a bit of treat. Out on Rough Trade.
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Sorta-folkie Kate Stables has been plugging away at This Is The Kit for a very long time now, so it’s kinda elating to see her dues paid with this big, bold release for Rough Trade. Listening to ‘Moonshine Freeze’ is a treat largely because of how confident a songwriter it presents, one unafraid to mix their clear, emotionally lucid songs with verbose experimental oddballing. This is the work of someone trying strange things out with enough assurance to never once make you think they’re new tricks.
Enough of this record feels like a traditionalist paean, in that Kate Stables’ sound is rooted in certain folkies old and new (sounding in parts like the psych folk of Fairport Convention and the recent excursions of Jesca Hoop). This is not enough to hold This Is The Kit in place, though -- using sparse or acoustic skeletons as her backdrops, Stables then builds big, earth-hiking songs that stand up against the elements. “Hotter Colder” develops into a lovely vocal tradeoff in which herself and her band wordlessly imitate a horn line -- right before a sax comes in and splurges all over the page. The record’s title track sees strums and fret-mutings meet a soft programmed drum whose rhythmic hiss sounds like a steady stream of fog rising up outside.
The gorgeous “Empty No Teeth” has a trembling and tumbling guitar figure that moves with a hint of American primitivism, particularly its newfound revival in seabound artists like Seabuckthorn; it sounds full-bodied, making a mere acoustic picking pattern sound like an atmosphere unto itself. These songs, bubbling from their empty surfaces into world-building arrangements, prove This Is The Kit to have evolved into something entirely its own, grown far from the roots.
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