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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kalen - Falling From The Sun

Kalen - Falling From The Sun
2012, Kalen Lister
First you take a small town girl from Exeter, New Hampshire with a penchant for singing and songwriting.  Next, you provide her fertile mind with an Ivy League education.  Finally, you turn her loose on the streets of Brooklyn to see what happens next.  This isn’t exactly Kalen Lister’s story, but it’s not far off the mark.  Kalen brings an exciting and intellectual approach to song craft on her debut solo CD, Falling From The Sun.

Kalen starts off with "Island", an ethereal pop vocal tune reminiscent of early recordings from Maryen Cairns or Milla Jovovich. The composition is built of complex layers that are realized with surprising clarity over a light dance beat. "Fallen From The Sky" explores how good love goes bad when obsession sets in. Kalen uses an elevation to angry rocker to show growing frustration while layering ghost-like vocal chants over the top. The effect is striking.

Kalen gets gritty on "Rabid Girl", a story song about a young woman's descent into alcoholism and the demons that drive her there. The urgent energy of this tune carries over into "Neda", which reverts a bit to Kalen's more ethereal pop sound. Maintaining a bit of that gritty feel and channeling it into bluesy pop, Kalen's moves on into the dark and spritely kiss off song "Hit The Road". This is the most impressive vocal performance on the album thus far, and hints at greater musical depths that Kalen may not yet have tapped. Kalen strips things down to piano, strings and voice for the closing waltz, "It Takes A Lifetime." This is a wow moment, as Kalen struggles through insecurity and indecision to a nominal understanding that the confusion and fear is a normal part of life. Elements of Tori Amos or Sarah Slean can be heard here, but Kalen really makes the moment her own by singing very much from the heart.

Kalen Lister makes a grand statement in bold hues, subtle rhythms and deftly crafted phrases on Falling From The Sun.  This is a nuanced EP that rewards patience, unfurling new layers with repeated listens.  Kalen’s voice is enigmatic and warm, drawing you out of your listener’s isolation and involving you in the stories she spins.  She’ll leave you wanting more and more.
Rating:           4 Stars (Out of 5)

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