All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Review: Tara Kalyn Norman - Tara Kalyn Norman

Tara Kalyn Norman - Tara Kalyn Norman

2008, Tara Kalyn Norman

Tara Kalyn Norman's day job is high school freshman in San Antonio, TX. When not at her studies she writes and performs highly personal and affecting folk/pop songs. This young musical phenom has already opened at Mountain Stage, been twice recognized as a monthly finalist in VH-1's Song Of The Year competition in the Folk category and been invited to perform at The New Music Seminar in Cleveland, OH. Norman has a voice that falls somewhere between Maren Ord and Edie Brickell, and a very simple, concise song-writing style that serves as a perfect vehicle for her musical ideas. Her debut recording, Tara Kalyn Norman, is ten songs of heart-baring emotion that touches the listener while showing subtle flashes of the artist she will become.

Tara Kalyn Norman's eponymous debut is a Lo-Fi affair capturing just Norman and her guitar. The songwriting is relatively simple and straightforward, allowing Norman's vocal sound and personality to shine through. Her voice isn't perfect in the fashion of Edie Brickell, but is a strong, expressive and sweet vessel for her heartfelt lyrics. The CD opens with Would It Be Bad To Say, a waffle on whether to say those three magic words. What seems at first an adolescent ponderance proves to be a universal theme of human emotion and amazingly apt. Holding On was a monthly finalist in the VH-1 Song Of The Year Competition and is a regretful rumination on love lost.

Gummybear is a sweet love song and one of my personal favorites on the album. Norman touches on young love and devotion without an ounce of cliché. Anymore is a powerful song of self-fulfillment in the face of loss and is the lead in for One More Day Alive (the other VH-1 Song Of The Year monthly finalist). One More Day Alive is not so much a war protest song as a counting of the cost of war. The song has a lot of power and shows a real attempt to understand the mind of a soldier in combat. Up next is my other favorite song on the CD, I Tried, with a very pop sound and a sweet, memorable melody. Be sure also to check out Get Used To Seeing My Face, a step off song from a girlfriend to a young boy’s mother. The song shows an emotional toughness that speaks well for the future as a songwriter.

Tara Kalyn Norman is a very talented young artist. She writes strong, coherent songs that mostly have a distinct sweetness to them; all based on strong emotion or emotional movement. Norman is still developing as a songwriter and artist, so you will hear some of the lyrical awkwardness that was common in early Jewel songs. Her songwriting style is a bit simplistic as befits a young songwriter, but Norman shows the drive to improve as she is studying piano and will learn harmonica in the near future to allow her to expand songwriting options, sounds, etc. The disc itself sounds like a well done home recording, but with all of the sonic flaws and imperfections that come with demos. Keeping all of this in mind, Tara Kalyn Norman's debut is a breath of fresh air. Anyone who's ever strapped on a guitar or stepped before a mic has been where Tara Kalyn Norman is right now, and she shows incredible promise. This disc is worth checking out as much as for what Tara Kalyn Norman may become as for what she is right now; a very talented, budding young songwriter.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Tara Kalyn Norman at You can purchase a copy of Tara Kalyn Norman by contacting her through her MySpace page.

No comments: