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KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall smiles for a promotional photo. The Scottish singer has released a new album, <em>Tiger Suit</em>.
KT Tunstall smiles for a promotional photo. The Scottish singer has released a new album, Tiger Suit.

For a while, it appeared that KT Tunstall was going to be yet another busker with a record deal (albeit a highly talented one).

With the release of Tiger Suit, however, the Scottish singer-songwriter has broken free of the mold to fantastic results. Like so many others, she has embraced the synthesizer and drum machine. And yet, unlike many unfortunate experiments from other artists, she avoids being swallowed by the electronics. Her breathy voice still commands full attention, and her rough style of guitar is enhanced, but not overshadowed by the new layers of sounds.

Tunstall’s latest album is an experimentation in what she dubs “nature techno,” which blends her old folksy flair with driving funk and electronic dance music. The old, country-like ballads have been transformed into pounding numbers like the lead single, “Fade Like A Shadow,” or the discotheque-ready “Come On, Get In.” She rarely lets up, either; the sheer energy of the album is palpable from beginning to end.

This is even true of the few slower tracks that initially appear to stick just to her roots. The ethereal introduction to “Lost,” for instance, gives way to a soaring, epic fanfare at the conclusion. But the real showstopper is saved for the final track, “The Entertainer.” Nothing sums up her new style quite as well as this one, as she juxtaposes campfire guitar with a climax on par with Arcade Fire.

Tiger Suit is the effort of an artist resistant to traditional classification, who is unlike the many acoustic singer-songwriters of today. While some try to make the leap into new territory, they often fall short along the way.

KT Tunstall not only succeeds, but she does so without losing her signature uplifting spirit.

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