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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Georgi Kay - Backwards Forwards

Georgi Kay - Backwards Forwards
2011, Georgi Kay

Australian singer/songwriter Georgi Kay might still be finding her footing as a performer, but the eighteen year old shows real promise on her full-length debut album, Backwards Forwards.  Armed with an introspective worldview and distinctive musical sensibility, Georgi Kay is beginning to build real buzz Down Under; the sort of buzz that oceans can't contain.

Backwards Forwards opens gently with "Puzzles", a quietly lush exploration of the world that results in more questions than answers.  The song represents a rest stop on the journey to adulthood, a socio-epistemological query that shows off Georgi Kay's quirky voice in intriguing fashion.  "You And Me" is a passive love song in light, folk/rock syrup.  The full instrumentation here is intriguing, although the production values used don't do the song any favors.  "Back To Back" is a catchy folk rocker with real pop sensibility; a great listen that might just grab the attention of radio programmers in the right market.  Kay digs into a melancholy and ethereal Emo style on "Breakfast In Bedlam".  The song is likely the most commercially accessible tune Kay has written to date. 

"You And Me" gets stripped down into an acoustic version that works better than the full studio version.  There's a subtle spark here that exceeds the energy and verve of the original, and Kay is much more personable as a vocalist when it's just her and guitar.  "The Cure" is a live-in studio recording that finds Georgi Kay stretching outside of her somewhat limited vocal range.  Pitch and tone are sacrificed for effect in a questionable tradeoff, although the song is rich with melancholy and regret and plays well in spite of its flaws.  Kay changes pace with the low-key, swaying country/pop of "The Truth".  Seemingly jumping off the beaten path, Georgi Kay surprises with what might her best songwriting on the album.

"Lionheart" is a great pop ballad, pure and simple.  Kay uses her compressed vocal range to full effect in a diary-style diatribe on unrequited love.  While the delivery here is a bit simplistic, Kay shows the potential reach of a great songwriter here in flashes.  "The Cure (Rhodes Mix)" is a crunchy guitar remix that's more vibrant than the original.  The sense of over-arching melancholy is still here, but the infusion of energy in the mix is a welcome breath of fresh air that lifts the song up and puts it in a new light.  Backwards Forwards closes with two electro-dance oriented tunes, the messy "Free (Rae Mix)" and a bland recast of "The Cure (The Stoops Mix)".  Both introduce rap with guest rhymers, and both are purely unconvincing.  Georgi Kay presents mellow-ethereal choruses over non-descript dance arrangements as a contrast to the rap verses, but the whole process sounds contrived.

Georgi Kay is a fledgling songwriter with more than a bit of talent, and an unusual, memorable voice.  Though not gifted with significant range, Kay's shy, intelligent perceptions light up her songs like shafts of sunlight through storm clouds.  The songs on Backwards Forwards are full of the angst and roiling uncertainty of adolescence, but there is also a burgeoning confidence in Georgi Kay's storytelling that compels you to listen.  Georgi Kay is still developing her sound and trying new things, but the process here is very much worth paying attention to.  You might just be watching the birth of a star.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Georgi Kay at    Backwards Forwards is available digitally via iTunes.

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