My interest was piqued when I opened this package and read a comparison of Kathy Murray to Wanda Jackson. Jackson is one of my favorites and I keep a couple of CD compilations of her work in a desk drawer for those times when I need a little boost of inspiration.
I’ve always been a fan of different genres. Cut my teeth on early rock and roll, fell in love with the energy and power of rockabilly, and of course became a devotee of the blues. But I always found connections between those genres and look for those artists who have done the same.
I think I’ve found such a group in Kathy And The Kilowatts, a high energy group that seems to share those sensibilities. The Kathy in question is Kathy Murray, who not only provides the edgy vocals delivered with a smile and a twang, but who writes or co-writes all the songs as well. She has an eye for images, a depth of emotion, and a ton of soul to share in just about every note.
The main members of The Killowatts are husband Bill “Monster” Jones and brother David Murray both on guitar, Murray adds the talents of many diverse artists to complete the album.
While there are 15 songs on Let's Do This Thing, it moves quickly as only two songs break the four-minute mark. In true early rock or rockabilly fashion most of the songs are up tempo and fast driving.
There’s some serious rocking going on with Let’s Do This Thing, and the album kicks off on a very energetic note. Murray has a strong voice and the band is obviously having some fun with the song. Some rockabilly, but whatever you might want to call it, the song is infectious and makes you want to get up and move.
The follow up song, Call Me Mrs. Blues, is dedicated to one of my favorite people, Sallie Bengston, the head of NOLA Blues. Don’t know the whole story behind that yet, but it doesn’t matter because there is some serious blues in the song. Murray’s voice growls with a darker edge, and there’s a real sense of danger here. Love this song, even if I didn’t know Ms. Bengston…
There’s a strong country vibe on Talking Out My Head. I’m not talking about the kind of country that’s essentially rock with a guy in a cowboy hat, but the classic style that has a certain swing and Murray’s vocals add even more flavor. Kathy and the Kilowatts is a very cool hybrid seeming to be at home with a number of genres mixing to create their sound.
10 Most Wanted is a powerful song that again straddles a few genres, but give the lyrics a listen and you’ll find that this is one very cool song. Social justice never goes out of style, neither does moral obligations. Good work!
I like the blues line underneath Love Came Knocking. At first it may seem like your basic rock tune, but when you listen to Jones’ guitar you can tell that this is a strong blues song with purring vocals from Murray.
Murray brings the tempo down on Read ‘Em & Weep, a stripped-down number heavy on guitar, bass, and drums. This is a great song for Murray to connect with her audience and I bet it kills when they perform it live. The song connects beautifully with the ballad, Beautiful Moments, which relies so heavily on Murray’s emotion filled lyrics and vocal. The horn section adds a great deal to the song and combines beautifully with Jones’ controlled guitar.
The horns stick around and give a ton of energy to Each Kiss. This is a great pick ‘em number with the singer pledging to make “each kiss sweeter than the one before.” It’s a song of great promise, but since we’re dealing with blues or rockabilly sensibilities, who knows how long that will last…
A driving guitar opens One Lie Leads To Another, and the distortion creates a strong mood. Murray’s vocals picks up the charge and you can feel the power in her voice. This is a woman who has reached that point and she’s not going to take it any longer.
I love that Chicago blues sound on Spell It Out, with the fat horn section adding its weight to the number. Murray’s vocals attack the song, although she drops down more into a purr when she can, but that growl definitely adds an edge to the lyrics. When it gets to the point that she’s spelling it out for you guys, better pay attention.
The very personal I Want To is next and you can feel the pain in Murray’s vocals in every note. The arrangement is stripped down to the barest essentials and the focus is squarely placed on her emotional delivery. This is a beautiful and heartbreaking song.
She picks up the tempo on Exception To The Rule, a very strong blues song that follows the pain of the previous song. There’s got to be one man who is the exception to the rule, one man who is not the same as all those other men. Nice guitar work from Jones to compliment the edge in Murray’s delivery.
These Lonely Hours starts out like classic country with its haunting vocal and instrumentation. It’s a song that relies on heavy emotion and the evocative vocal prowess of Murray. The lyrics paint a strong picture and makes a great companion to I Want To.
I hadn’t heard the phrase Your Barn Door’s Open since grade school, but it can still cause a fella to check that zipper surreptitiously. Here, Murray and company are using the phrase more as a warning of what might happen if you don’t keep it closed. It’s a clever number and one that swings while delivering a strong message.
The album ends on Loveaholic with a driving raucous rockabilly beat. It’s a fun song and a good way to bring everything to a close. The lyrics are darker but delivered with that fantastic music. Great tune.
Let’s Do This Thing is a strong album and the blending of the genres may not sit right with some purists, but if you enjoy artists examining new approaches, you just might find that all of these genres explore the same themes. Personally, I like all the ways in which Kathy Murray and her band deliver a song. I find it exciting that the songs play with different elements and create a unique sound.
As a fan of early rockabilly, I enjoyed its energy and the way it could get under an audience’s skin to the point that you just couldn’t help yourself. I was inspired by the likes of Billy Lee Riley and Carl Perkins and I can hear their echoes here in the Kilowatts.
If you think this sound might excite you, be sure to visit the band at http://www.kathymurrayandthekilowatts.com/ for samples, information about upcoming shows and the chance to pick up more of their work.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put on my headphones and give the album another listen – this time for pure pleasure!