Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kaki King: Everybody Loves You (2003)



Since we were just talking about the productivity problem I've had with this blog lately, I'm going to just lay out there that only about half of it can be blamed on my apathy about most new music I've heard lately and the spreading thinner of myself as a result of the movie reviews. What actually comprises a bulk of my issues lately is re-learning how to live by myself (Amber and I are fine; she's in Greenville for college for a good while though) and in turn how to write in a perpetually silent house. Ironically I generally require silence to write anything, even if it's about music. I need a dark and quiet room and no distractions whatsoever, and normally it's simple enough to excuse yourself out of civilized life for an hour or two on the weekend and get a good chunk of work done. I really enjoy writing, so this is a fun thing for me.

But since Amber moved out I've had to face up to one particular hindrance, and that's not just that I can't stop myself from clicking on internet things and falling down a hole of wasted time, but also that silence itself can actually become a distraction. Deafening, even. So if I hole myself up in the bedroom with the door shut to keep the cat out for a little while, theoretically it's a good environment, but I think the solo time with my thoughts makes me less likely to compose anything worthwhile. For one thing, it invites way too much self-analysis. I can notice now the way that I begin with a thought, start formulating how to reach it, and then get distracted by the way I'm reaching it which leads to several other tangents, etc.; it's extremely annoying, but it's the way I've worked for years so it seems like consciousness of it is kind of damaging.

My point is: I've discovered that music like that of Kaki King, the usually-but-not-always instrumental acoustic guitarist who's one of the best modern players, has proven useful as I've cautiously allowed the speakers to emit something during long sessions of babbling about things. Generally I've mostly listened to King in fragments, seldom putting a full album on, but that's starting to change as I find that the lovely, emotive atmospherics she generates are conducive to clearing my head and getting things down on the proverbial paper.

On this first album of hers, I can't really single out individual songs except the really beautiful and seductive "Night After Sidewalk," sort of halfway between Richard Thompson and Nick Drake, and I'll tell you that while King is something of a virtuoso, her music aims for background ambiance and isn't terribly challenging -- though I don't think it means or needs to be. On this first pass, some of her percussive effects are a bit much; intended as a risky stroke, they instead just stick out a bit irksomely. There's also a useless hidden track with (sort of) vocals, which is just frivolity but I'm concerned it turns people off from King's later vocal material which is often excellent, enhanced by her breathy urgency.

Tonight as I post this, we're getting brushed by the edge of Hurricane Sandy; while the storm is about to become dangerous north of here, in my region it's basically just a heavy and pretty rainstorm. This music's perfect for it. I'm by the open window now and just feeling almost disembodied. More than recommending the album, I suppose I'm recommending that feeling.

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