Spins and Reviews | 08.08.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Karla Kane | King’s Daughters Home For Incurables (2017)
Fun of the Pier | 14:42 (2017)
It’s the voices that bind these two superlative releases together. It’s as if the recording of each release was purposeful in that regard, as if these releases were functioning as the last two, most important pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, fitting side by side to reveal a sweet visual treat, although this treat–these treats–are primarily aural in nature but no less sweet.
Evaluating these releases necessitates considering some correlations. Songbird Karla Kane, whose sound hearkens to classic artists such as Claire Hamill and Kate Rusby, also plays in California popsters The Corner Laughers with her husband Khoi Huynh, pop music’s not-so-secret weapon KC Bowman, and Charlie Crabtree. Here, she steps into the spotlight with her first solo album, King’s Daughters Home for Incurables, her lovely vocals in play throughout its 11 song stretch. Sweet-voiced Helen Luker, who plays in Fun of the Pier with her husband Mark and Richard Hattersley, is the glue that holds 14:42, the group’s first long player, together as its program of 13 songs plays through. Each release holds true to itself, exploring its various, intrinsic nooks and crannies with aplomb.
What’s more, Karla and Fun of the Pier are touring together in California this September, with singular dates for each occurring in the UK and Germany in October. Perhaps there is more that binds these artists together. Perhaps there is a style of coffee the various members all prefer, or a mode of transportation they all would rather employ to get to here from there. Whatever the case, these artists prefer and deliver good songs performed with style and grace; both attributes are in abundant supply on these two albums.
Listeners familiar with The Corner Laughers’ releases will instantly be attracted to the songs on King’s Daughters Home for Incurables; they are, like those on the Laughers’ Poppy Seeds and Matilda Effect, tuneful and melodic. The difference here is that these songs, with the possible exception of two Corner remakes–“Midsommar” and “Grasshopper Clock”–are more folky in nature. The term modern folk comes to mind.
Among the pleasures offered on King’s Daughters Home for Incurables are “Lilac Line” and the title song, which sound like numbers that would fit comfortably on an album released by Elektra Records, had that label’s folk era been ensconced in the present day. The otherworldly “All Aboard” is the welcome, odd duck about these premises, adopting a traveling, train-inspired beat along its path that builds from a treble and bass clef percussive piano riff to add guitar strums, harmonies and subtly rendered percussion. If this album offers up a not-like-the-others showcase, this is it.
Hailing from Nottingham in the UK, Fun of the Pier favors, on 14:42, a bright, happy folk-pop sound that pleases as handily as Karla Kane’s more intrinsically acoustic-based folk approach on King’s Daughters Home for Incurables. Songs such as “Past/Future” and “(In My) Time” are drenched in lovely, clever and catchy melodies and beautiful lead and harmony vocals. Others, such as the beautiful ballads “Lost and Lazy” and “I Live this Life (She Said),” hearken to classic artists such as Claire Hamill and Kate Rusby (and there is another correlation worth noting). 14:42 is a wonderful, delightful collection of songs, expertly performed.
Both Karla Kane and Fun of the Pier please and entertain in the same way that the best magicians approach their art: they don’t call attention to how they do it. They simply imbue their songs and performances with honesty and skill and let the results speak for themselves. Both King’s Daughters Home for Incurables and 14:42 are perfect for these and all times to come.
Songs from Karla Kane’s King’s Daughters Home for Incurables and Fun of the Pier’s 14:42 play on Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, heard Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio
Where to Get It: Karla Kane’s King’s Daughters Home For Incurables releases October 6 and will be available from The Corner Laughers’ Bandcamp page ; Fun of the Pier’s 14:42 releases September 1 and will be available at CD Baby (check back for link)
Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.
Listen to the Pop Tunes Deejay Show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm ET (two different shows every week); In Conversation airs every Wednesday night at 9 pm ET. Don’t miss a minute!