Kaki King - Junior
It's hard to believe that not so long ago the world of guitar playing was considered a man's realm. In the indie rock world that's a distant memory as not so arguably the two most proficient axe-wielders, Marnie Stern and Kaki King, stand head and shoulders above their male counterparts.
This week one of them, King, releases her latest album. On Junior, her fifth record, the Brooklynite does nothing to tarnish her pristine reputation.
There are few guitarist who demonstrate such a deft touch in a wide range of styles as King. The virtuoso seems equally comfortable playing room-filling ripping rock ("Death Head") or pinpoint lazer accurate riffs ("Falling Day") as she does nurturing a tender introspective mood ("Sunnyside").
Lyrically Junior tends to be an angry record. There resides an underlying despair and hopelessness in songs like "Spit It Back In My Mouth" that could easily be mistaken for the work of Trent Reznor. Despite that, the guitar work is an equally integral element in relating the narrative to the listener.
As is par for the course the vocals on Junior are the weakest part of King's game. Occasionally, as on the desperate "I've Enjoyed as Much as I Can Stand", they are emotionally charged and quite good. But for the most part King's delivery rates as adequate. Maybe that's why beautifully elaborate instrumentals such as "Everything Has an End Even Sadness", "Hallucinations from My Poisonous German Street" and "Sloan Shore" rank amongst the album's most riveting cuts.
In the end, fair to middling vocals are hardly enough to detract from Junior. After all, Kaki King's guitar does more than enough singing on its own.
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