12 songs – 53 minutes
With one other album, two EPs and one single to her credit since making her recording debut about five years ago, full-throated Kate Lush has been making a major name for herself at home in Australia, and one listen to her latest disc, Let It Fly, clearly demonstrates why.
A lady who delivers soul-drenched blues with a clear, crisp alto, Lush’s previous release, Do You Know What Love Is, garnered her newcomer of the year honors at the 2016 Australian Blues Music Awards. Along with Fiona Boyes and Nick Charles, she was runner-up to Lloyd Spiegel as artist of the year. A gifted tunesmith who produces material that falls somewhere between old-school Motown and the bluesiest of blues-rock, she’s currently a finalist in America’s IAMA Songwriting Competition and vying for another trophy in the International Songwriters Competition, too.
Recorded in Sydney, Let It Fly sandwiches two covers around ten originals. It features her regular band, which includes guitarist Matt Roberts, bassist Tim Wilson, drummer Tony Boyd and keyboard player Wes Harder. They’re augmented by percussionist Sunil de Silva, a horn section consisting of sax player Jason Bruer, trombonist Mike Raper and trumpet player Adrian Veale. Chris Wright provides strings on one cut.
A single-note run and horn flourish introduce Freddie King’s familiar “Pack It Up” to start the set. It’s a faithful cover, but proves from the jump that Kate means business. King would be pleased with the six-string solo mid-tune. Up next, “River Flow” has a Memphis feel with strong horn charts. It’s a ballad that implores a lover not to give up on himself. The pace picks up with “Last Mistake,” a medium-fast shuffle, which consoles a former lover as the singer assures him that she was his last blunder.
The mood quiets radically at first for “Come With Me.” It’s a thinly veiled love song that picks up intensity as it suggests not making that long, risky drive home. The deeper you get into the song, however, the more you realize Lush’s tune is about a deep longing. “Yours Or My Way” features the keys and horn and has a New Orleans feel. She wants the object of her affection to make a move — one way or the other — because she doesn’t intend to wait around.
The rocker “Stranded” follows atop a heavy drumbeat in a song that’s reminiscent of Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes” and deals with the realization that the singer’s lost touch with the state of her current romance. The aural intensity lightens dramatically for “Somebody Like Me,” in which Lush volunteers to be a shoulder to cry on when the person she’s singing to really needs a friend.
The romantic roller coaster continues in the ballad “I’ve Moved On,” the funky, uptempo “Roll Over You” and the rocker “High Time” before Lush finally finds happiness in the straight-ahead blues “Good Good Love.” Kate’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” mirrors the original, but she makes the tune her own to bring the album to a close.
Available through iTunes, CDBaby and Bandcamp, Let It Fly soars throughout. Like Dave Hole and Boyes before her, it won’t be long before Kate Lush becomes a household name among blues lovers in the U.S. Get on board before the tsunami from Down Under reaches our shores. You’ll be happy you did.