Why you need it: It’s a rainy afternoon and you’re trying either to get over a problematic ex — or to rev up your resolve to turn someone into an ex and then get over them
Style: singer-songwriter pop, with dashes of R&B and alternative-pop flavors.
I’ve been looking forward to Connecticut native (now based in Boston) Kat Kennedy‘s debut album since I accidentally saw her perform live at the Big E last fall — and here it is! Drifting is a witty, scathing, unabashedly honest look at desire, disappointment, dysfunction, bad decisions, and ultimately escaping abuse, wrapped in a cool pop vibe.
Come along for a track-by-track look at Drifting. (It’s also available for download in all the usual places).
Notice Me bounces into the club, casting sidelong glances at a hottie. It’s adorable dance-pop — you will find yourself making up moves to go with the little details of the percussion. This is the happiest song on the album, so if you’re up for believing the chase the best part of the relationship, this is your album.
Space chills the temperature a few notches. Pay attention to the way Kennedy mixes and matches metaphors — it’s so clever that it’d be a spoiler to tell you what the chorus says.
Wasted goes into the folk/alt-pop mode that’s the signature sound of New England. I initially thought this was a cheerful break-up song… and oh no, this is another one that relies on shifting meanings. It’s delightful even as you want to cringe at how bad a decision the viewpoint character is making.
Mathematician may be my favorite track. The way the minimalist electro-pop verse slides into an ironic soul groove, combined with a math joke — I see no downside. If you’re dancing barefoot in the kitchen with someone you just threw a plate at, this song will work extremely well.
Sound the Alarm tackles taking off the rose-colored glasses to recognize that the flags are red. It has a menacing groove, mixed with cool-headed resolution to act and an echoing voice of the subconscious.
How Wrong Would It Be poses its question in sexy, plaintive soul idiom. The beat is downright hypnotic. (Given the context of surrounding songs, it would be very wrong, but this is your satin-and-champagne late-night bad-idea text.)
My favorite line from Hostage has to be “it’s difficult to make a choice when someone always loses,” followed by “I made up my mind but I lost it.” The percussion shifts from the finger-snap effect of earlier songs to booms like distant missiles.
Fool is going to hit home if you’ve experienced the cycle of abuse-forgiveness-abuse to the point of having “vertigo from all your mood swings.” From its start as a stripped-down ballad, it picks up momentum as the viewpoint character picks up resolve to refuse another round. And that oo-oo-oo in like a fool hearkens to happy pop songs about new romance — this is where it goes bad.
Talk Back covers similar territory in a darker and more martial tone, with percussion that’s low-key threatening. The lyrics circle back to the bar of “Notice Me” and the idea that this (abusive) partner was going to be “the one that got away.” Check out how the percussion turns into a nervously beating heart on the bridge.
Drifting, with Jason Sibi-Okumo, takes an almost dream-pop approach to a . relationship that’s failing mostly by apathy. “Let’s separate our future from the past” is such an apt way to write off sunk costs that the phrase deserves to be tattooed on a favorite body part.
Despite most of the tracks being about drifting through relationships where holding on is a terrible idea, I found it more cathartic than depressing. Some of that is owed to the cheerful pop vibe… and it’s also affirming to hear one’s own worst reasoning reworked in someone else’s words and turned into art. I ended my second listen with a great feeling of relief: yes, stuff feels like that, other people do things like that too, and it’s okay, and (per “Fool” and “Talk Back”) we grow past it.
If you’d like to grow along with Kat Kennedy, follow her on Facebook — she does sometimes get down to Connecticut for gigs.