Sound: KT Tunstall instantly made waves back in 2005 when her single Black Horse and the Cherry Tree become a staple of both radio and VH1. The singer/songwriter hasn't necessarily made as big of a splash with her follow-up singles, but that's not to say that Tunstall doesn't consistently deliver fresh, unique ideas. Her third studio album Tiger Suit (not counting KT Tunstall's Acoustic Extravaganza) doesn't skimp on her trademark rhythmic acoustic work, but it also is a beautifully textured and genre-hopping album that holds listeners interest from beginning to end.
While plenty of acts prefer to begin with a powerful bang for their opening songs, Tunstall eases into her record with low-key tambourine, exotic melodies, and primal chanting in Uumamannaq Song. The track sets an instant mood and sets the stage for what could easily be the first single on Tiger Suit, Glamour Puss. That particular song delves into a bit of electronica, well-utilized whistling, and mellow adult contemporary feel that should make it attractive to radio stations.
Tunstall's ace in the hole is her ability to keep her arrangements changing, whether that means opting for a different way to phrase her vocals in the second verse or building with new instrumentation. Another impressive factor is the fact that each of the 11 tracks are distinct entities, whether it's the bluesy Push That Knot Away, the lush, Sonic-Youth effects in Difficulty, or dark, cowboy-ish groove of Golden Frames. The closing number, much like the opener, doesn't go out with a bang. Instead, The Entertainer is a moody offering that contains dreamy, Smashing Pumpkins-like guitar effects. In short, Tunstall pulls out sounds that you just wouldn't expect your typical singer-songwriter to deliver. // 9
Lyrics: Tiger Suit's lyrical content is full of descriptive imagery and at times intriguing storytelling. There's a quirky quality to each phrase, which undoubtedly is aided by Tunstall's engaging delivery. Push That Knot Away veers into inspirational territory with lines like, In the morning when you wake; It is a doorway for you to walk through to become what you make; And just remember you have heaven in your heart, while Glamour Puss tells the story of feisty ingnue (Long legs taking you somewhere; Catch your reflection in the window pane; The universe is starting to feel ya; Drinking tequila like it's the name of the game). There isn't necessarily life-changing content, but Tunstall's lyrical ideas are pleasing enough. // 8
Overall Impression: KT Tunstall isn't your typical singer/songwriter, specifically for the fact that she isn't afraid to delve into the world of electric guitars/effects frequently. Her open mind to world outside of the acoustic is a huge part of why Tiger Suit remains engaging throughout. While it never goes into full-on rock territory, she seamlessly transitions between mellow pop rock to blues to alternative (and everything in between). You'll even want to listen to the album a few more times for the simple fact that Tunstall has put effort into creating a variety of lush background instrumentation. This is one solo artist who deserves to be known for much more than Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. // 9