One of my favorite things in the world is when I get an e-mail that explains how someone has been following my blog for a bit now and would love for me to review their new (or old) album. Those people are gutsy. I’m notorious for being brutally honest and even recently got called out by the one and only Aaron Carter for doing so. Regardless, if someone is willing to risk it by sending me an album for review even after seeing how my snarky remarks seem to sneak through my editing process, I will for sure be reviewing their album. So cheers to Katie Marshall for taking the jump and subjecting herself to whatever may come with submitting her new album ‘The Great Unknown’ for a review.
“Canyon” opens up this album with a beautiful piano intro that instantly captivated me. Before long, Katie’s honest and raw voice kicks in. Just when I thought this would be just another singer-songwriter type album, more instrumentation comes in completely washing my away on waves of sounds. At under two minutes, this opening track is definitely short and sets the table for what is sure to be a dramatic and unexpected ride through the rest of this album.
“Down Here” brings a programmable sounding drum kit front and center which typically annoys the crap out of me but somehow, the way Katie’s voice juxtaposes that mechanical feel of the drum machine, it works and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This song has something dark about it. The swaying vocals mixed with the regimented drum sound create an atmosphere that is irresistible. Just when you think you get the vibe of this song, Katie’s vocals take control and turn this into a Robyn-esque track as far as the power is concerned. Although a bit shocking, the change is a thing of beauty and I still wasn’t over it as the album rolled into “She’s Gone”.
“She’s Gone” takes the darkness of “Down Here” and turns it on it’s head. You can still feel Katie’s soul through the vocals but there’s something a bit lighter about the instrumentation which, at times, seems a bit hidden beneath the epic drums and steady chord changes being produced by the other instruments. I don’t know how else to describe this song other than addicting and I know that doesn’t describe it well but that’s really the only word to use. “Faint and Fading” comes in with another gorgeous piano intro that seems to shake you out of the dream world painted during “She’s Gone” but it’s not as dramatic as one may think. Katie’s voice stays the same as the instrumentation changes which is part of the genius of this album. Katie’s voice is distinct and “Faint And Fading” is a good example of that. Echoed and almost whimsical but with a sense of power, it’s one of those voice that there’s no question when you hear it– it’s Katie Marshall.
“Faint and Fading” fades off to the distance and is replaced by the new sound of an acoustic guitar as the album moves onto “Love You Less”. Introducing a whole new vibe to this album, this song was instantly a favorite of mine. The tenderness of Katie’s voice tells a ridiculously relateable story of wanting to “Love You Less”. Although not quite a ballad, this track is definitely one of those cozy songs best spent listening to while sitting at your desk with a cup of coffee and watching the rain come down. “Something To Hold On To” keeps up with the cozy vibe but brings a bit more of a dancey atmosphere to the album. Sweet and playful, this song showcases a side of Katie’s voice that has yet to be seen on this album. Her playful vocals slide from note to note with a sense of ease and perfection and although the top-40 pop tendencies are strong in this song, there’s still something completely unique about the song.
Up next is “Great. Un. Known”. I was instantly reminded of Tegan & Sara as this song kicks off. There’s something haunting about the reverb on Katie’s vocals which mixes perfectly with a sound that can only be described as a shorting out electric device. Strange and mysterious, this song continues on to be an infectious number that got a couple of listens from me before moving on to “Gotta Believe” which is another favorite of mine from this album. The vocals in “Gotta Believe” are a bit more childish and carefree than on the previous songs but they are still 100% Katie’s. This entire song seems a bit more playful while still having lyrics about real life issues that make this entire album relateable. You know when you’re washing dishes and have an urge to just break into an original song? That’s what this song reminds me of only Katie has the talent to actually do it and she does it perfectly.
“Lighthouse” starts off with almost pure silence before Katie’s voice kicks in. I honestly thought the album may have been skipping but those few seconds of silence are placed perfectly on this album. “Lighthouse” starts off as cool, clam and collected with Katie’s voice at almost a whisper but, before long, you hear passion erupt from her voice. The waves of emotion featured in this song just can’t be put into words. This is definitely just one of those songs you have to hear for yourself. The same can be said for “Lifeboat”. Although almost to the end of the journey that it ‘The Great Unknown’, this song seems to come out of left field with the chugging acoustic guitar almost taking over Katie’s voice but, no need to fear, within just a couple of seconds Katie’s voice is back front and center the way it should be.
Second to last is “Where We Are Now”– a beautiful track that instantly had me hooked. It’s as if all of the heartbreak that Katie sings about in the previous tracks seems to come to peak at this song. Again, with the lyrics that hit a little too close to home for comfort, I love the way that this song has a sense of aggression to it while still keeping with the beauty that Katie has laid out for the listener throughout the album. I wasn’t ready for this song to end as it changed into the closing track “You Had The World”. Closing out this album with an almost jazzy vibe, Katie proves that she has so much to give to her listeners. It’s as if she’s taunting you with this final song like, “Yeah, you think you know what I’m about but let me add this jazzy little diddy at the end just to make sure you stay captivated!” Well Katie, you did it. You kept me captivated and I still want to hear so much more from you.
Sending me an album for a review is a gutsy move but I am so grateful that Katie took the jump and sent one over. What a great album full of surprises, infectious beats and relateable lyrics.
My Favorite Track(s): “Love You Less”; “Gotta Believe”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 6.2 out of 10
For Fans Of: Hating On Pop Music But Low Key Loving Pop Music; Cozy Mornings Spent Drinking Coffee And Watching The Rain
Daydream-ability: 7.2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis Laid By The Door; Autumn Slept Under My Coffeetable
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.9 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
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