Kaki King
United States
Solo Artist
Kaki King has never been one for convention. Her third album, ...Until We Felt Red, is certainly no exception. Over the last few years, she has enjoyed well-earned status as the zeit-girl of instrumental acoustic guitar; a gifted young ingenue closing rank on the canonized heroes of the genre. Now, with ...Until We Felt Red, she bests herself and defies expectation again-ditching her acoustic for an electric, lap steel and perhaps, the most unexpected instrument of all: her own voice.

For King, the choice was one of artistic necessity. "I love the guitar so much, but I found myself running up against the limitations of the solo acoustic sound. I knew that if I ever wanted to return to that style, I would have to take a break from it and travel a different direction for a while." A bold move in the wake of the success of 2003's Everybody Loves You (Velour) and her 2004 breakout, Legs to Make Us Longer (Sony), an album that won her vast critical praise and landed her a performance on The Late Show with David Letterman and other late-night staples. But bold has always been King's way, from her first appearance at NYC's indie-rock proving ground, the Knitting Factory, where she jumped up onstage as a last-minute fill-in for a no-show performer, to her debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, where she coolly reeled off some of the most jaw-dropping guitar pyrotechnics ever seen on late-night TV.

So ...Until We Felt Red ventures into new territory sure-footedly, even with a degree of self-assurance that can border on irreverence. But King is not afraid to be vulnerable, either, and the album loses none of the emotional openness that defines King's previous work. And like the yarn that graces the album's cover, she's spun her material out: the haunting melodies are sadder, the lush orchestrations are fuller, and the sharper edges can cut. Much of this can be attributed to the new sonic palate Kaki brings to the platter: distorted pedal steel, pounding drums, ethereal trumpet, dots, loops, bleeps and other indefinable percussion sounds, and her own voice, disarmingly winsome and sweet for a woman with as much attitude as King.

As tracks such as the triptych "You Don't Have To Be Afraid" and the lush single "Yellowcake" demonstrate, King made a great call in seeking out producer John McEntire (Tortoise, Stereolab, Sea & Cake), who engineered and produced the album at his Soma Studios in Chicago. McEntire called forth some of the sweeter bursts of ear candy on the disc, and the creative chemistry between the two is apparent. "I don't think John will ever love me as much as he loves his microphones," she laughs, "but I had a wonderful experience making the album with him. He is as generous a person as he is a great musician and producer."

Having recently been emancipated from a recording contract with Epic Records, King made ...Until We Felt Red on her own terms (and dime), dropping off a near-finished master on the desk of her surprised (and elated) management team/label, Velour. King's return to her original, indie-label home feels like a good thing for all. "Kaki is one of those artists where the best thing you can do, from an A&R perspective, is to just let her go off and make some brilliant art," says manager Jeff Krasno, adding, "not that she would let it happen any other way."

King will be supporting ...Until We Felt Red with extensive touring in the US throughout the fall. She also recently completed a tour of Italy and will perform weekly in NYC in July.
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