ALBUM REVIEW: 'Veraniegas' - kate can wait
RELEASE DATE: 24 JANUARY 2020 GENRE: DARK FOLK / INDIE FOLK
Kate can wait is a dark folk artist from Puerto Rico, and her latest album Veraniegas is a sophisticated blend of sorrow and joy when it eschews repetition. Veraniegas navigates the natural wonders of kate can wait’s summer - a complicated one, with sorrowful tones accentuating joyful auras. This sophistication is belied by the simplicity of the chords and guitar arrangements, sticking to a consistent, but ever-wonderful indie folk aesthetic. But at every turn, you are washed over with the sound of water and synths, right from the starting track “green greenz”, preventing things from wilting. The self-harmonizations provide multiple dimensions to the lyrics too, whether in English or Spanish. Sometimes the formula gets stale however (e.g. the first two tracks of ‘Veraniegas’, the song ‘flors de bolsillo’ and ‘orphan maker’). The poignancy of the lyrics don’t always make up for the overused guitar shimmers and harmonies. The severely emotional words in orphan maker is a good example of that. At times, the earthy nature of the singing makes it beautiful, if unchanging, like the features of a forest. Other times, it comes off as a slightly irritating troubadour trope. Maybe it’s because ‘Veraniegas’ is not really meant to absorb you into concentration, it’s one of those records you own that fade in beautifully into the background. A staring-at-the-ceiling kind of endeavour. A decorative furniture. All of the above doesn’t leave a large scar on of the album. Often before you are drawn into lethargy you’re surprised by small moments of relief. The conclusion of ‘fantasmeo’ is the perfect example of this with a riveting guitar solo that seamlessly blends into the synths as it fades away. The waltz of ‘le mat’ is filled with a tiny sense of humour and a pinch of sadness that makes it a great experience. There’s even a tiny bit in the middle when it sounds like the artist stumbled a bit on the guitar, which, inadvertently or not, fits the shakey proclamations of hesitations in the song. There’s a very attractive earnestness in ‘obvio de quo’, and the fact that it hits the nail in under two minutes makes it one of my favourite tracks. In ‘out of heaven’, kate can wait seems to take a different personality. A more menacing, and haunting tone replaces the sweet sincerity of the first half of the album, drawing attention to her “rusted body”, and feelings of abandonment. (All of a sudden I am thrusted out of heaven/Nobody woke me up in time). There’s a huge gothic theme to the whole track especially when weaving around topics of death and desire. The song ending in whispers of “death won’t keep us apart” hits the nail in the head for me. Things take a turn for the romantic in solo c que no ca. The more openly lovey dovey cuts of Veraniegas are great treats, including ‘to be alone with you’. The second leg of this track feels a galaxy flower blossom compressed into the mouth of a singer-songwriter, until it gets to the awkwardly electronic bit at the end, that is. There’s definitely some sort of sonic illustration here, conjuring images of things falling apart or coming into place all at the same time, but it sticks out really weirdly from the rest of the track in an almost unforgivable way. Weirdly, but somehow effectively, ‘kate can wait’ adopts a more emo-esque aesthetic to her vocals in somewhere, outside (especially the reference to Chicago, maybe a mid-Western emo coincidence?). This feels more observational and stream-of-consciousness, almost like a sincere parody of a Sufjan Stevens song.
Expecting perfection is a flaw in itself when it comes to albums like Veraniegas. It comes from an earnest place that transcends stilted amateurism. It blossoms frequently enough for the smidges of dirt to be negligible. That being said, I can’t help but feel a large chunk of the first half comes off as slightly redundant, which leaves a lot for wanting from an otherwise pretty tracklist. RATING: 3.5 / 5 FAV TRACKS: Obvio de que o sea full de que super literal
Out of heaven