Kat Perkins – Fearless
Using an inspirational story to help increase exposure for new artists is common, but Kat Perkins never does that. Her debut EP, Fearless, devotes only its title song to any obviously autobiographically driven material. It never plays as a craven move from her. Instead, she weaves an emotional vocal around the title track’s almost-oceanic sweep and rides it wherever it goes. The slow build to its ultimate crescendo is the album’s most impressive moment and the maturity it shows to work for that moment as a songwriter and performer rather than rushing things is something immediately separating Perkins from the bevy of false pop gods and goddesses preceding her. It’s real artistry that separates fly-by-night song and dance people from others determined to grow and make better and better music.
“Paris” shows a harder edged, but much more playful side of her musical character. Her range is impressive. Perkins is able to sound seductive, taunting, and sarcastic in turns and the tour de force performance is enough to render moot any complaints with the musical accompaniment. The production mix, however, obviously positions Perkins’ voice as the song’s overwhelmingly important center, but there’s little question that bringing each of the track’s elements into better balance would improve it immeasurably.
There isn’t a single moment in her cover of “Barracuda” where I get the feeling that she’s singing this for herself. Instead, the band summons up a cracking, letter-perfect rendition of the Heart classic that shows no wont for tampering with it in any way and Perkins gives the vocal just enough of her skills that it rises above the mediocre. There’s no question that’s she studied the original vocal, but professionalism isn’t always an effective substitute for passion. It is a reasonable guess that she prefers performing her own material and my belief that this song bears that out.
“Good Girl” banishes memories of the preceding track with its brash and guitar-drenched sound. Any production failures in “Paris” are remedied here and the additional instrumental weight helps make this the EP’s best outright rock song. This isn’t your typical former Voice contestant but rather a truly talented artist who found a highly visible platform. This North Dakotan native has recorded a strong debut, not entirely perfect, but full of promise for the future.