Katy Carr - Kensington Royal College Of Art
Kensington Royal College Of Art is not, perhaps, the best place to see a live band, but the ambience was certainly there. Katy Carr, and band, played in front of art by one Amelia Johnstone and surrounded by candles in a coffee shop/bar and this made for a very relaxing air, all the better for the gentle edies and flows of Carr's music to float and caress the small, but devoted, crowd. The back projected paintings certainly added to the sense of performance and Johnstone's work certainly matched the darkness often found in Carr's music; crudely drawn, almost primitive, depicting familiar subject matter, but with the essence amplified and laid bare, perfect for Carr.
Now, this is where music writing flails into 'dancing about architecture' country. It's very difficult to pin Carr into a box marked 'folk' or 'alt.country' or even 'prog', though they are labels that have been attached to her over the course of her two album long career. You get the impression that if she where shoved into any sort of box of this kind, she would simply climb out, laugh, and spit in your eye before dancing into one of the other boxes. She certainly leans towards the folksy sound, but isn't afraid to borrow from any other genre she sees fit, and this is an excellent trait.
The set consisted mainly of songs from her second album, Passion Play, the mood was almost impossibly mellow. Paper Castle is almost minimalist in construction, having a close to invisible structure with hooks that subconsciously embed themselves in your mind. It's a loose keyboard riff that circles its way around the song with Carr sounding folksy and soothing at the core. Borderline is a fusion of folk and the psychedelic with the melody almost completely driven by Carr's voice.
Tonight, her band consists of Olly Parfitt of Herbalizer fame on keyboards and Sam Gathergood of The Loose Cannons on drums and and lets hope that this line up has some permanence, the chemistry between them bubbles. The influences to Carr's music are certainly varied. It's very folk oriented at heart, but there's Pink Floyd in there somewhere and you wouldn't have to look hard to find The Doors at their most trippy. Carr's vocals flit nicely in between the ripples and she's a remarkably bold, gifted and confident singer, able to act as strong stabilizing force that holds the loose and often improvised music together.
Katy Carr is a brave and talented performer. There's no better evidence than the final encore, an accapella rendition of Reddle Woman. With her two self produced albums under her belt, it's a joy to watch her evolve and experiment with form. A mighty talent in the making, spaced out, original and feisty.