It's not often that you hear Debussy cello sonatas at live gigs, but that's what happened to me the other week when I went to watch Kate Walsh at The Tabernacle, a beautifully converted venue in the Portobello Road area. Kate Walsh is one of my favourite artists, and I've been lucky enough to have seen her five or six times now.
I think this is Kate's third studio album, with the most recent two setting themselves apart from the first by a few years and a stint at BIMM in Brighton, where Kate is still based. That's how I first came across her music many years ago. Whenever I see her at gigs now I mumble something about the Open House, my ex local and a lovely pub. Anyway. Much like another Brighton resident, Emiliana Torrini, Kate's third album has found a way to take the best parts of albums one and two, and show a real evolution of sound and style.
The first album, Clocktower Park, was produced very nicely, and the songs were very listenable. They were also much more heavily orchestrated than the songs that followed on Tim's House. For me, having heard Tim's House first, the extra instrumentation on Clocktower Park went a long way towards hiding what I've now been able to be more sure of listening to Light and Dark; that the songs on Clocktower Park weren't anywhere near as sophisticated as those on the follow-up album.
It's hard to explain, as the Clocktower Park songs all sound good and I've spent a lot of time listening to them, just like with Emiliana Torrini's Love In The Time Of Science. But when you hear the songs stripped back in the way they were on Tim's House (and Torrini's Fisherman's Woman), you can really begin to appreciate the songwriting at work. The versatility of Walsh's songs has been proved every time I've been to see her, as she's had a completely different accompaniment each time, giving the songs a whole new setting.
Now that I have my copy of Light and Dark, the departure from record number one is even more apparent. Kate and Tim Bidwell (who also produced Tim's House, in his house), have re-introduced the orchestration, building on the solid foundations laid down in the previous album. The results are simple but intricate, melodious but challenging.
Hearing the new songs live was a delight and I'd encourage you to go along if you can over the next few weeks.