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Any album that starts with a celebration of the power of music is an album by someone to whom I will probably relate. “Radio”, the opening salvo from Keturah Allgood’s new album, Shine, is about those moments when you hear a song you like on the radio, crank the volume up and then allow yourself to get thoroughly lost in its sonic charms. Music in those situations can act as a buffer zone, a safety net, and a safe space. And the wonderful irony, or perhaps self-fulfilling prophecy, is that “Radio” is precisely the sort of song that would itself provoke such a reaction.
And, having found so much in this first great slice of infectious Americana, onward I go. And this radio-friendly track sits, to some degree, towards the more upbeat end of Keturah Allgood’s repertoire, but whereas most people see laid-back and understated songs as being a lull or a break from the more incendiary deliveries, Here, she turns them into an art form.
Songs such as “Butterfly Wings” are built from a gossamer interlacing of restrained playing, space being as important as any sound-making device being wielded here. “Beautiful You” is, again, gentle and joyous; “Sing Baby Sing” is a gorgeous piano piece that leaves plenty of space for Keturah to showcase what a controlled and creative vocal range she has, and “Love” is a wistful and romantic celebration of…well, love, obviously.
There are some more upbeat moments, such as “Jug O Shine” which leans into some old-time country vibes, but largely what Shine is all about is understatement, grace and grandeur, breathing space, and things unsaid and unplayed. And that is a rare skill in today’s often bombastic world. And it is an art that Keturah Allgood has mastered to an astonishing degree.
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