Drastic Fantastic review by KT Tunstall

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Sep 18, 2007
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (45 votes)
KT Tunstall: Drastic Fantastic

Sound — 8
KT Tunstall is sitting in a very good position right now. She's one of few ladies in the pop rock world today that are earning both critical acclaim and a steadily growing fan base, thanks in part to her infectious, bluesy track Black Horse And The Cherry Tree. The anticipation has been high for the next release by Tunstall (who is known for bouncing between playing guitar and percussion during her stage shows), and her answer to the anxious fans is Drastic Fantastic. The record definitely has it's moments and at times does indeed live up to the hype. But while it is a satisfying piece of music, you can't help but think Tunstall has got a lot more to offer creatively than she's letting on. The cover of her latest album Drastic Fantastic shows Tunstall holding a glitzy silver electric, and it's somewhat misleading. Her guitar playing is absolutely up to par, but an electric guitar is not the centerpiece of the album by any means. The acoustic is the name of the game, with maybe a little electric thrown in here and there. This shouldn't surprise fans, though, as her trademark song was driven by an acoustic (in this case, making just as big of an impression as a Les Paul). If you're hoping for the same sort of energetic anthem that Black Horse And The Cherry Tree provided, you're going to find a few too many relaxing moments along the way. The opening track Little Favours is a fairly restrained introduction, although it does feature some of the best vocals on the record. In terms of instrumentation, it's primarily the acoustic and percussion that stand out, and it's what Tunstall does with the vocal aspect that makes the track stand out. In fact, she goes for a little bit of Dido's airy vocal style and it shows off her versatility. In terms of energy, Little Favours lands somewhere in the middle compared with the other tracks. Not surprisingly, the first single Hold On marks the greatest resemblance to her hit Black Horse And The Cherry Tree. It doesn't have quite the novelty that Black Horse did when it first came out, but it's still a pretty fun listen. Most of the other tracks don't match the sound of her singles and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Tunstall is actually at her best when she strips off any unnecessary instrumentation and lets her passionate vocal delivery take over. While the track Beauty Of Uncertainty is the polar opposite to the fun, rhythmic Hold On, it still manages to be the best track on the CD. It actually feels like a throwback to Johnny Cash, with Tunstall deepening her already intense alto voice to suit the haunting track. Even the guitar solo uses an effect that could have fit easily into any Cash song. There's a "real" quality about the song that immediately jumps out from the first note and it would be great to hear Tunstall experiment even more with the old school country style.

Lyrics — 9
While the choruses tend to get stuck in the same place lyrically, the verses rarely disappoint on Drastic Fantastic. She arranges each line in a way to communicate mundane ideas in a new way. Hold On is the perfect example, with the first line showing a nontraditional structure. Tunstall sings, Say you to me; You're a bird with an eye for the enemy shining; Searching the land for a hero of a man. There's a poetic quality on top of it all and her vocal delivery allows every word to be convincing.

Overall Impression — 8
Just when you think you've got Tunstall pegged, she throws something new at you. Besides her nod to Johnny Cash and her usual pop fare, she also has a touch of The Cure in one track. Saving My Face starts out with a fairly straightforward soul feel, but the song continues to build and eventually adds in a guitar part that sounds like a trademark Cure riff. The song as a whole stays true to Tunstall's sound, but it's little touches like the riff that sets the singer/songwriter apart on Drastic Fantastic. It does seem like Tunstall does play it safe for much of the record, although her songwriting does indicate she's got more to offer. She has the ability to go from a sweet, cherubic vocal style to gritty groans, creating some of the most intriguing moments. That versatility shows up many times during Drastic Fantastic and she will hopefully let her inner Johnny Cash out even more by her next release.

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm not fan of this artist. She is good looking, but has she not heard of Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan. Once again Mr Music Industry takes another swipe at originality and longevity in contemproary music, and replaces it with money producing pap!
    handlerb wrote: Her songs are gimmicky. At first people are mesmerized by her ability to loop sound effects and create a song, until they realize that it is repetitive and outright annoying. With any luck, there wont be a second record.
    this is her second record...
    Wow- I love how so many people post their comments on here like they know everything about music. First of all, defining KT in one genre (like pop) is utterly ridiculous. If you listened to her actual albums including her acoustic release of B-sides (Acoustic Extravaganza), instead of just hearing her songs released on the radio then you would know exactly what I am talking about. KT's sound is truly original, ranging from bluesy sounds, using jazz chords in a lot of the music that she writes, then taking that soulful sound (like off the first record) and completely challenging it with this second album that hits the surface of classic rock and roll, emotional ballads, and going outside of the sound that made her famous from her first album. That takes balls, and it also takes a lot of creativity and influence from a WIDE range of artists. Her biggest influence was Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday. HELLO PEOPLE- these were divas that were coming into the music scene WAY before Dylan, Joplin, and whoever else you want to classify and drop names to make you sound good. Do you even listen to those artists? Probably not, because (like our friend above explained) KT has covered Dylan and already got referenced to old style singer-songwriters. So, please before you carry on and act like you know what the **** you're talking about next time- just save yourself the time- because you obviously know SHIT about music....If KT was manufactured in some POP music industry bakery (whatever you dims call it), then she probably would come out looking like something off of MTV I'm sure (Fergie-a-liciously, or Rhinnawannahumpa). But she has stated her own style, is a well-developed musician singer-songwriter (which means she writes her own music/ lyrics), started doing this on the streets and sidewalks, and pulled through so many stereotypes, and has taken so many different viewpoints on music in her life just to be able to create music that is honest and true... Since when did that get classified in the majority of music that is being listened to today?? Exactly.... Here's what I think is wrong with music and critics today... People are stupid. People are looking for oppurtunities to make themselves sound smart and witty. People love to drop BIG names in the music industry because they heard other people praising that artist or because they were a defined legend( not because they know anything about that artist.) People like to think nowadays that if they listen to underground music strictly then that makes them above everyone else and they know so much about music. But news flash- there are a lot of shitty underground bands and artists that will one day make it big or make it on the radio- and the next day those same fans are calling those artists sell outs and no longer support their music because they can't drop names and act like they know so much about so and so and not expect everyone else to too. ....News flash- music is not all about solos, heavy metal, and who knows shit about shit.... Music is about making good music. Music is about making honest music, original music, music that the artists have a personal connection to and isn't trying to sound like every tom dick and harry....Okay got it. So before you post something and make yourself sound like a complete idiot, you should know what the **** you're talking about next time. Wake up- because no one gives a **** about your sloppy criticism. Krista Kathleen
    I'm not fan of this artist. She is good looking, but has she not heard of Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan. Once again Mr Music Industry takes another swipe at originality and longevity in contemproary music, and replaces it with money producing pap! i dont agree with you here, if you listen to her ep's and demo tracks such as on acoutic extravoganza and tracks in july we hear an amazing thing, also she's been quoted many time in reference to janis joplin and especially joni mitchell, the later influence obvious on the said ep/demos, really good music.....and later on yeh definatly not to hard on the eyes.....oh and i forgot she regually covers dylans wheels on fire and tangeled up in blue
    BennyStruggle wrote: she churns out corporate pop dribble like babies produce runny, sour and dismal diapers full of fecal matter.
    You don`t know what you`re talking about son; First of all there`s nothing wrong with making "pop" records; Many well respected singers and bands have specialised in this area. Tunstall has had to fight against the many prejudicies of the music industry in order to achieve the success she`s had (she was turned down by record companies because they thought she was too old at 31 to make it). Talking of prejudices; All those of you whose only comment was on her looks ought to be ashamed. Twats.
    she churns out corporate pop dribble like babies produce runny, sour and dismal diapers full of fecal matter.
    My first impression from looking at her: Crap. I can tell by the cover art and her picture on UG that she's a wannabe rock star trying to be something she's not. Maybe if she did her own thing it would change things.
    NoobMuncher3000 wrote: Wow, she's pretty hot...
    http://tob.hollywood.com/wp-content/up loads/joss_stone_kt_tunstall_2observer_feb2007.jpg she's really not.... there's two girls in that pic.... one of them is hot.... I'll give you a hint.... her name rhymes with Boss Bone
    ^She's actually very good. Mediocre skills? Not at all. She's a great artist, not a legend or anything but this is a very good album. Great lyrics, song structure, very well produced, and great vocals (she can actually sing). I think sometimes people forget that a lot of artists are successful for a reason pertaining to their music - because it's good.
    Yup just like the pop industry. Find someone one attractive with mediocre skills.
    I absolutely adore KT and love this album. Someday Soon is just an awesome track. Disagree that Little Favours is restrained but each to their own hey Where she really comes too though is at live performances. There are too many effects and smoothings out in this album for my liking which hide her fantastic voice and at times you can hardly hear the guitar (Paper Aeroplane). and handlerb...this is the 2nd record...3rd if you count her acoustic album. Here's to more of the Tunstall!
    Her songs are gimmicky. At first people are mesmerized by her ability to loop sound effects and create a song, until they realize that it is repetitive and outright annoying. With any luck, there wont be a second record.
    yeh she is fit but man when ur only comment is id give her one then ur pretty sad. shes pretty good i havent got her on my ipod but id listen to her on the radio
    i love KT as she's not just a singer but a musician, that so rare to find nowadays in the music industry, especially in the pop industry. I really love how she's still writing her own music and some of the songs still have that fantastic energy of the first album! also some of the songs have the beauty of the first album aswell. It's funny how you keep comparing her with dido as she has publicly stated how she hates dido and thinks she can't sing for shit!
    Very nice album, although personally this type of music lacks the energy to spin my brain into overdrive induced hypnosis But i still reckon she's a gr8 artist even if this is not my style
    she is a great singer and her music its different from all the pop rock that is in the market now a days... and another thing: if spacymagee thinks Tunsall hasnt heard of janis joplin, joan banez or bob dylan, i think instead of listen kt tunsall, you should be listening those artists, any artist is gonna sound as another artist. anyway.. im gonna buy that album!!
    The modern artist needs both pop smarts and the ability to craft a song. She's getting there. Not a bad album imo. I like the raspy quality in her voice, it does a lot to set her apart from all the overly-perfect, immaculately produced pop out these days.
    Looks aside I think her music is pretty good, my mum has her album so I've had to get used to it. It's not ground breaking or anything, just nice tunes.
    agreein with that! it's obvious people don't understand the difference nowadays between genre and the person themselves, maybe KT is fomr the same genre as many of these music industry manufactered artists but SHE is her own musical person and writes her own songs, etc! and maybe she isn't as Rock N' ROll as we'd like her to be, but the rock industry is so prejudice against women so that's pretty hard! i agree with people, she is hot, but that doesn't make her any less of a musician, if u watch her first performance on jools holland (she does black horse) she's not that hot, pretty yes but not that hot. and yet she still got her big break through it cos she was /is talented, there are flaws with the new album but no musician is perfect (with the exception of matt belamy who is God) and she's pretty damn close. I often go as far as to say KT is my guilty pleasure as i'm into heavier stuff but i've stopped because i don't care what genre she is, her music is good!