Question: if a KT Tunstall record exists and it isn’t shoved on telly by Jools Holland, does it even exist at all? Arguably it seems that man has been single-handedly keeping the singer-songwriter in business, even if it feels like there’s no market for her any more.
In fairness, Tunstall does occasionally have it in her – the debut had gems galore, but her Uummannaq Song still showed signs of a fierce musician that could still exist in a radio pop milieu. It’s no surprise, however, that the sleeve of KIN might remind us of fellow early-00s upstart Mika, as it feels the two certainly have the same level of low-grade relevance.
Examples? Turn A Light On, a guitar ditty that feels like it could soundtrack a saccharine advert about a hospice. Evil Eye, which feels like it got lost in between a blues bar and an afternoon slot on Kerrang Radio. It’s all so sanitised, so overly-produced and polished that even Tunstall’s still-endearing cracked vocal seems sapped of its ability to deliver emotion.
Is there a market for Tunstall any more? Maybe, but it’s hard to see exactly who that is. The people who first listened to her have grown way beyond the YA-romance of On My Star. Anyone older has a dozen acts who do things way better than her. Which sort of leaves KIN without any home of its own, even when it tries to find solace with a desperate-to-be-relevant duet with James Bay. Says it all, really.