Kathy Murray and the Kilowatts – Fully Charged
14 songs, 53 minutes
Austin Texas is called the live music capital of the world. It is also sometimes affectionately called the “Velvet Rut.” The 2 superlatives go hand in hand. As a funky chilled out place with a ready-made audience, working musicians have flocked to the lush and liberal town that Willie and the brothers Vaughan put on the map. But many of those high end musicians then got real comfortable and happy in domestication and have forgone the life of the road – hence the plush fabulously upscale rut!
It is the Austin culture of great local talent that bears out a band like Kathy Murray and the Kilowatts. Murry and band leading guitarist Bill Jones are talented musicians. Murray, a sharp songwriter, and Jones, a solid string stretcher, have led bands in Austin for a long time. Fully Charged is the most recent document of their roots Blues with a 60’s pop twist. Michael DeSantis on bass, Richard Ross and Jason Corbiere on drums, Matt Farrell on piano and Lewis Stephens on B3 are augmented on 4 tracks by the legendary Texas Horns. This self contained honor crew is Kaz Kazanoff on tenor sax, John Mills on bari sax and Al Gomez on trumpet.
Kathy Murry writes with a personal and playful voice. Tunes like “My Mistake,” “Get Ahold of Yourself” and “Animal Magnetism” use clear eyed lyricism. The music is equally solid and straight forward. Playing with skilled chops and solid rhythm, Jones leads the band through the paces from the brawling strut of “Expanse of Love,” through the grooved up funk of ”Henny Penny Blues” and the lush balladry of “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is” which brings 60’s AM radio cool to the proceedings.
A stand out track is the cover of Doc Pomus’ “Suspicion.” Taken here more from the 80’s Ronnie McDowell version then Elvis’s larger than life hit, Murray’s delivery is especially nimble floating over the melody lines. Similarly the band opens up. Nina Singh takes her only drum performance on this track and her playing skips through the rhythm section. “Suspicion” offers a counterpoint to the more driven, chugging movement and tighter vocal delivery of the other tracks.
Fully Charged is a full record. At 14 tracks there is a bit of an overabundance of material here. Some of the tunes are closely related in tone and feel. Although the length deters from the flow of the album, the tracks are solid and the performances assured and confident. Kathy Murry and the Kilowatts definitely know what they are doing and they deliver a mother load of Roots cool from the Velvet Rut.