Katy Kirby – ‘Cool Dry Place’ album review

Texas-based singer-songwriter Katy Kirby was born, raised and homeschooled by two ex-cheerleaders in small-town Texas and started singing in an evangelical church. Her new album, ‘Cool Dry Place’ (released via Keeled Scales), finds her dismantling her past: ‘I can hear myself fighting that deeply internalized impulse to make things that are super pleasant or approachable’. From motherhood to relationships and the effects of late capitalism, these nine songs cover so much – but always with a knowing sense of humour.

There’s a touch of Daniel Johnston’s DIY home recordings in the opener ‘Eyelids’. It’s a song that first finds Katy tenderly telling a subject what she’d do ‘If I was your girl’ before then switching gender conventions. This is swiftly followed by the breezy indie-pop of ‘Juniper’, but this is tinged with sadness: ‘You don’t need to wait around and see which of the promises she’s gonna keep’. Slotting neatly alongside Frankie Cosmos, ‘Peppermint’ is a tale of lost friends amidst a fractured sound while ‘Traffic!’ has Katy asking ‘What are we gonna do when I can’t talk straight at you?’ before lamenting the fact ‘Nobody has it better than you’. ‘Tap Twice’ is another recent single, but this time it’s all about wanting to protect someone special – even if the feeling isn’t reciprocated: ‘When we met a few years back, you didn’t warm to me’.

‘Secret Language’ takes the record into a woozy and artful dream pop space with waltzy elements, powerful lyrics (‘I heard you were the chosen one’) before a crash of drums and glacial soundscapes collide, while ‘Portals’s is altogether more reflective. Sounding like a diary entry signalling coming to terms with the end of a relationship, there’s an honesty that grabs you: ‘If we peel apart, will we be stronger than we were before? We had formed ourselves together in a temporary hold’. ‘Cool Dry Place’ – the longest song on the album clocking in at five minutes – continues in this vein and finishes with a flourish before the country-tinged ‘Fireman’ wraps things up. Here, Katy warns a loved one not to do anything he’d regret…

Come and visit this ‘Cool Dry Place’… You won’t regret it.

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