With this album, perhaps jumping onto a trajectory more suggested by Tracks in July than suggested by Eye to the Telescope, KT Tunstall returns to her raw folk sound, this time employing the help of a full-force folk band to accompany her as she weaves her way through her Acoustic Extravaganza. Released in 2006, this album saw a different kind of Tunstall take to the floor as the self-assurance so hard gained over the last few years came to fruition and birthed a non-narrative collection of music, which was initially slated to be an acoustic version of ETTT, but ended up as something vastly different.
As the story goes (told in the documentary Five Go To Skye), Tunstall and her band took off for the Scottish Isle of Skye with every intention of recording what they’d planned, but as the sky grew darker and the air grew dense, something began to stir the intentions of all involved – a fact which resulted in this collection, recorded over a mere few days in the living room of a house on the Isle.
The collection delivers a variety of tracks from different points in her musical career. Two tracks from ETTT are present and offer more stripped down versions of themselves – the upbeat “Miniature Disasters” and the mellow “Universe & U” – the latter reaching its full potential as a tender description of love on this album; leaving the listener aware of Tunstall’s attachment to the work she creates.
In addition to these previously heard tracks, the 10-track album includes a version of “The Change” from Tracks in July now just called “Change”, a meditative cover of Beck‘s “Golden Age” from his 2002 album Sea Change, and ends itself off with a song I still feel is one of her strongest – the ever-beautiful “Throw Me A Rope”.
While not being of premium status in terms of narrative rounding, I find that this album is still very much an enjoyable body of work. Tunstall seems to be in control throughout, in a way she’d perhaps not been until that point. Her voice, her music, her melodies – they all sound more rooted on this album. And, because the context of the album isn’t shied away from, the bits of studio talk and banter which sporadically pepper the spaces between tracks definitely contribute to the impression of comfort and enjoyment the album attempts to create as it declares its folk status.
This collection gets a thumbs up from me as I find that it achieves its intention of serving as a respectable acoustic collection. This was the second Tunstall album I ever listened to, and it most certainly worked in piquing my interest, and thank heavens for that, because the albums that followed were the ones that proved that Tunstall would become a musical force of note, able to deliver work of the most stimulating kind.
“Throw Me a Rope”
“I want you between me and the feeling I get when I miss you.”
“And whenever you go it’s like holding my breath under water.
have to admit that I kinda like it when I do.
Oh, but, I’ve gotta be unconditionally unafraid of my days without you.
So, throw me a rope to hold me in place.
Show me a clock for counting my days down.
Cuz everything’s easier when you’re beside me
Come back and find me
Cuz I feel alone.”
-“Throw Me a Rope“, KT Tunstall’s Acoustic Extravaganza, Track 10 .
Check back next week when this series takes a look at the often overlooked folk-poppy Drastic Fantastic.
Listen to “Throw me a Rope” and “Golden Age” from Acoustic Extravaganza below.