Concluding her ‘soul body and mind’ trilogy with another 10 immaculately crafted pop-folk songs, what you see is what you get
KT Tunstall‘s seventh album sees her concluding her ‘soul body and mind’ trilogy, which began with the release of Kin in 2016, and followed up with Wax in 2018. But anyone looking for some ingenious interlinking between all three albums beyond their all having one word titles may be doing so in vain. As ever with Tunstall, what you see is what you get. And what you see here is another 10 immaculately crafted pop-folk songs.
On Wax, Tunstall’s main collaborator was Nick McCarthy, formerly of Franz Ferdinand. There’s no sign of McCarthy this time around, instead there’s a range of guest writers, including Johnny Lynch (otherwise known as Pictish Trail), Cathy Dennis and Greg Kurstin of The Bird And The Bee. Mostly though, this is a more personal album, which is fitting as since 2018, Tunstall has had to deal with hearing loss, as well as the effects of the global pandemic.
There’s no wallowing from Tunstall on Nut though – opening track Out Of Touch is a big bright rocker, full of energy and a riff to bring to mind Stevie Nicks‘ Edge Of Seventeen. Long term fans, who still remember that landmark performance of Black Horse And The Cherry Tree on Later… With Jools Holland in 2004 will be pleased to see she’s still a dab hand at the loop pedal, with the intricate handclaps and acoustic riff of Dear Shadow being a particularly fine example.
As she’s herself admitted, Tunstall basically has two songs – one rocky, one ballad. Both sides of her are well represented on Nut, with All The Time being a lovely reflective number – the type you can imagine sitting down on a relaxing Sunday morning to contemplate life to. The wistful, breezy Three is also one of Tunstall’s better ballads, one which would have fitted quite nicely onto the likes of Invisible Empire.
The only trouble is, like Kin and Wax before it, there’s nothing that really stands out on Nut like there was on Tunstall’s earlier albums. It’s very well played, and moments like the crackling guitar riff that opens Canyons grab the attention, but too often there’s a tendency to play it a bit safe. Which is fine – she’s had a career that’s lasted nearly two decades after all – but sometimes a little experimentation would be welcome.
That said, anyone who enjoyed the other two parts of Tunstall’s self-described trilogy will find much to enjoy in Nut. Although there’s no real coherent theme running through all three records, it is another consistently good album from one of our most reliable songwriters. It may not pick Tunstall up any new fans, but it’s a decent reminder of her talent.