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Karla Kane - King’s Daughters Home for Incurables

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 19 / 11 / 2017



Karla Kane - King’s Daughters Home for Incurables
Label: Gare du Nord
Format: CD

intro

Solo debut from the Corner Laughers' Karla Kane which is inspired by the Californian’s tours of England and features a guest appearance from Martin Newell


Karla Kane plays ukulele, sings and writes for the Corner Laughers, but ‘King’s Daughters Home for Incurables’ is the first album this musician has released under her own name; it’s being promoted as Kane’s solo album but all three of her fellow band members appear on this album so there’s plenty for fans of the Corner Laughers to get excited about (partner/fellow band member Khoi Huynh also co-produced this collection with Kane and co-wrote one of the songs). But having written much of the album under an oak tree in her Californian backyard maybe this set of songs reveals a little more of Kane than her previous work with the band. There’s certainly a more intimate side displayed here at times. The most obvious thing it shows is a love of England. The songs on this album were apparently inspired in part by the tours Kane has taken with the Corner Laughers in England. It sounds a little odd that it’s taken a Californian resident to make what is one of the most English folk albums of 2017 but that’s exactly what Kane has achieved. The inclusion of Cleaners From Venus main man Martin Newell’s spoken-word contribution on ‘The Wishing Tree’ not only reinforces the English connection but also adds to the overall quirkiness of the album. There are birds singing, bees buzzing and the sound of rainstorms woven into some of the songs that also reaffirm the inspiration for the songs, and on the opening and title track Kane makes her intentions as crystal clear as her vocals. “I wanted to be an English folk singer, the new Shirley Collins. the next Cecil Sharp and I would restore the folk songs to my people, armed with their history, my voice and a harp, but I was a Golden State girl and I didn’t have any people” are but a few lines from a lyrically smart start to the album. Despite all her aspirations, and the comparisons to UK folk heroes, one thing is clear; Kane, although capturing the essence of UK folk brilliantly, sounds like Karla Kane and comparing her to any of the folk elite is really an injustice to this remarkable singer. The combination of her distinctive voice, seeped in the folk tradition but with enough originality in her phrasing and tone to enable Kane to make her own niche, and utilising the ukulele as the main instrument might give the impression that the quirkiness content is going to be just a little too much but that’s far from the case here. Apart from Kane’s vocals being totally believable and inviting, she has a way with a winning melody, something that is not always so immediate with songs of this nature. Although there is also the thought that, given their instigation and the, at times, sparse backing that there would be a lo-fi home-made sound about the album, this is also far off the mark. What Kane has created is a collection of themed songs, with a natural, earthy feel surrounding them, which captures a time and place which is sadly fading and will likely never return. Apart from the tracks concerning the current state of the world are songs that reflect what is going on in Kane’s own personal life at the moment. ‘Don’t Hush, Darling’ is an astute, almost anti-lullaby, for Kane’s daughter - “Don’t hush darling/Go ahead and cry like those starlings fill up the sky…don’t be afraid to use your voice…don’t take princess when you should be the Queen.” They are words that will find a home with any new parent and a refreshing new take on an old theme. Elsewhere there are melodies that are simply irresistible. ‘Midsommar’ captures the spirit of the month of June perfectly, Kane’s harmonies are outstanding and brighten up the gloomiest of days while ‘The Weight of Acorns’, one of the deeper songs, has a brilliant arrangement and instrumental passage made even more appealing by Kane’s clear vocals. The nursery-rhyme like ‘Grasshopper Clock’ (one of two Corner Laughers' songs that Kane has revisited on this album) closes the set, leaving the listener wondering how long it will be before Karla Kane’s distinctive vocals will be appreciated by a larger audience than it already command. Right now this world needs more voices like Kane’s. Although some will find her vocals quirky, her lyrics show her to be one of the most insightful songwriters around just now and that voice, although idiosyncratic, is a thing of beauty and wonder.



Track Listing:-
1 King's Daughters Home for Incurables
2 Wishing Tree
3 Skylarks of Britain
4 The Lilac Line
5 Don't Hush Darling
6 Mother of the Future
7 Under the Oak in May
8 Midsommar
9 The Weight of Acorns
10 All Aboard
11 Grasshopper Clock


Band Links:-
https://www.facebook.com/KarlaKaneOfficial/
https://twitter.com/cornerlaughers
http://cornerlaughers.com/



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