18 September 2005

kt tunstall : black horse and the cherry tree

kt tunstall, a scottish singer-songwriter with chinese blood, has been in the critics' circle for about a year now. yet her debut album, eye to the telescope, remains way off the radar, at least outside her native scotland and the u.k., where she was one of the 10 nominees for the mercury prize. comparisons have been earnestly positive, even though they range from the incredible such as carole king and rikki lee jones to the questionable such as dido and alanis morissette. neither end of the range is surprising, however. listen to the song, her first single from the album, and it's not hard to understand why some would hold her up there with the legendary female artists. but given the way new artists are marketed these days -- the constant search for the next big thing -- you can say those who compare her to the latter set are just being realistic: they probably think tunstall will be packaged out of coffeehouse obscurity into chart superstardom, and then burn out to near-oblivion after the big first impression. eventually, some of them will find a niche, but the hype probably does more harm than good in terms of the artists' respectability, which they will need to gain long-term followers. i can't really give my own opinion about kt tunstall, as i haven't got her album yet -- this comes from a compilation -- but i'm eager to learn more about her music. if i were to make my own comparison, though, then she has the pop appeal of a michelle branch and the bite of a melissa ferrick.

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