I’ve been anticipating the release of Kate Stables’ Bashed Out, her third album as This Is The Kit, since we premiered the title track at the beginning of February. This is one of those records that you need to let steep, like tea, as the warm, herbal notes emerge slowly. Stables is a songwriter who can accord respect and beauty to the contemplation of lice eggs, as on the stately, almost romantic “Nits.” Or there’s her unwavering faith in the power of greens and seaside air to restore emotional stability on “Vitamins” — a belief so strong that the song itself assumes the power of medicine along with its listed cures.
Bashed Out is an organic, earthy album that’s packed with elements like heaving brass, elegant, closely-picked banjo, and somber, sparse beats that thrust Stables’ shying vocals into the spotlight. The players who worked on the record are the kind who are able to fade into the background even as they carry the weight of the song, wallflowers who bloom only to offset Stables as the centerpiece. She’s working with her touring band Rozi Plain, Jesse D. Vernon (Morning Star), Jamie Whitby-Coles, and other members of their similarly-minded musical community including Matt Barrick (drummer for the Walkmen), pianist Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), Ben Lanz (of Beirut) and, obviously, Bryce and Aaron Dessner. That these players never overshadow or eclipse her is as much a testament to her ability to helm a band as it is to their effort to reinforce her mesmerizing lyrics and voice.
No matter the subject, Stables walks the listener through the narrative like a spirit guide; on “Magic Spell” she uses literary-minded phrases like “rare and remarkable” one minute and the nursery rhyme nonsense “rusty dusty” the next. Opener “Misunderstanding” mumbles through the weary aching of miscommunication. Flickering banjo on “Spores All Settling” ushers in a rainstorm to flush out the rotting past, “All In Cahoots” worries at the possible uncovering of a past betrayal. Bashed Out is the work of an artist who is wise enough to recognize the impermanence of her subject, and she venerates experiences not for their eternal qualities but based on their fleeting nature. Listen below.
(via The Line Of Best Fit)
Bashed Out is out 4/6 via Brassland.