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CD REVIEW: Kristilyn Robertson - The Uncut Version
By Kevin Zarnett - 10/26/2005 - 06:19 PM EDT

Artist: Kristilyn Robertson
Album: The Uncut Version
CD Review: On her eight-song debut CD "The Uncut Version", Alberta native Kristilyn Robertson reveals herself as a promising writer and performer, with the ability to put all the pieces together and shape an engaging record.

Most listeners will draw similarities in her sound to Sarah Slean and Tori Amos, and Kristilyn does tread similar ground wearing their shoes (rhythmically, and especially in her vocal phrasing), but thankfully maintains some of the edge, imagination and theatrics that make those artists interesting.

As a singer, Robertson performs her songs with a confident and sometimes girlishly sly delivery, and effectively uses her voice to shift the mood through much of the CD; from the snappy pop of "Sound" and "I Like It Like That", to the dream-like pondering of "Under Venus", the bizarre, take your chances of "Masquerade" and the introspective "The Final Cut (Superman)".

The lyrics are supportive of the music, peppered with rich and interesting language, such as the lighthearted opener "Sound", which asks ‘what kind of sound are you?’ amidst an instrumental banquet, including a marimba and off-kilter percussion that recalls the moments that worked in Mitchell Froom and Elvis Costello's collaborations. We also get cool lines like ‘a penny for your thoughts/a dime for your history’ (“Hit Of The Century”).

The songs that seem to go for melody first, are the most successful ones on the CD (the first four songs for the most part), with "I Like It Like That" being a particular stand-out, featuring a catchy chorus, great bass playing from Tim Senger, an almost Beach Boys like bridge accompanied by a glockenspiel, and a half-spoken section that flows into a loose sing-a-long final chorus.

Robertson handles the arrangements on the disc herself, and does so deftly, introducing interesting sounds throughout the CD in addition to the always-apparent piano, dropping them in unexpectedly and taking them out before they become stale. While there is a fair amount of strings on the disc, they tend to be used in different ways, such as on "Masquerade" where an accordion plays off the strings, and really enhances the surreal elements of the song. An electric guitar is saved for the final track, horns are incorporated into a of couple tunes, and overall, she keeps the songs that have a spare piano/acoustic guitar accompaniment from becoming tiresome.

There is actually a ninth song, "On The TV", that probably deserves a better fate than being cast as a hidden track. A refreshing acoustic strummer, with another strong melody and care-free feel, it has a different sound than the other tracks (which may be the reason it isn't on the album proper), and could have strengthened the second half of the CD if it was moved up in the running order.

Sonically, there is nothing to get excited about here, and the programmed drum sound is a little distracting at times, but Kristilyn demonstrates throughout the CD, that she is capable of delivering an interesting song, in a way that many listeners can appreciate, certainly those who enjoy theatrical piano-styled pop. It is also quite common for younger artists to be referential in their earlier work, so it will be interesting to hear how Kristilyn Robertson continues to develop her own sound.

For more information on Kristilyn Robertson, visit
Visit CD Baby to purchase "The Uncut Version"

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