After releasing an album of alt-rock covers in 2005, Toronto’s Kate Rogers returns with a clutch of originals penned with co-writer Matthew Bannister. On the disc, produced by Chris Stringer (the D’Urbervilles, the Coast), Rogers’ rich voice exudes a folksy confidence that’s mostly put to good use, with the exception of a jarring heavily filtered trip-hop bridge stuck in the middle of Whippets. But generally it works, and Togers really hits her creative stride on Stealing From You, on which she sounds like a rockier Sarah Slean.
Sometimes when you are stuck in airports watching time pass too slowly, and people move too quickly, whatever music you have playing gets lost somewhere between the stagnancy and constant motion. I spent the better part of my quick vacation sitting at gates, watching time crawl by and the stack of promos I loaded onto the IPOD Zune didn’t help the lethargy. But on one of my flights yesterday, I gave Kate Roger’s new record, Beauregard, an extended, focused listen and was duly impressed. She’s been doing well in Europe, but this Toronto based singer really has the chance to make a splash here on her home turf. The arrangements bounce from folk to jazz to roots and the range of sounds is impressive, but no matter what the melody, it’s her folksy voice that booms over top and makes it hard to focus on anything else. I realize that is something that can be said about tons of artists attempting to hit the same market, but Rogers brings something unique to the equation: energy. With the help of Chris Stringer’s production, the tracks are infused with the spikes you’d expect hearing his resume (he helped the D’Ubervilles and the Coast really deliver big records as well). She doesn’t want to be the warm sweater or trusty blanket you reach for out of habit. Kate wants to challenge and surprise the listener. And that’s just it. Too often we let things blend into the beige and forget that music should energize us. I’m not trying to make Rogers into something she’s not. She’s got a beautiful voice, one that fans of folk pop or the soundtrack to Grey’s Anatomy will really enjoy (as Lying Loveless and the playful horns and choir vocals on Go proves), but the static that runs through Wowbox, the warble filled Whippets and the hints of rock and reggae on Safety Net she shows that there is more to her sound than you’d expect. She offers up a more realistic perspective – like when she hits back on a lover (“you’re so fucking miserable“) – and even when the record stumbles, you still want to hear what comes next.
Kate Rogers Band – ’54 Rounds’
Canadian women seeking fame and fortune through the English route. Charming on the outside but listen closely.
[Similar artists: PJ Harvey, Beth Orton, Tori Amos]