david kitt Yous (CD, £9.95)
Describing his first solo record for nine years as “the most free I’ve felt making a record since my debut Small Moments”, David Kitt’s sense of freedom is bound up in themes of renewal, movement, and a constant reshaping of his musical preoccupations. The last number of years have seen him touring and recording as a member of Tindersticks, producing other musicians’ work, exploring techno, disco, and house under his New Jackson moniker, remixing everyone from Shit Robot to The XX, and producing intriguing, eclectic DJ sets and radio shows. All of these experiences have been brought to bear on his latest record Yous, which mingles a sense of freedom, and calm reflection, with an independent impulse, “There was no pressure whatsoever with this record,” he says. “No label or manager, or anyone breathing down my neck. I was happy to wait as long as it took to have the right 10 songs”. "The intention was to release it very low-key via Bandcamp and do a small vinyl run, but when it was done and mastered I had a feeling I had something special on my hands, and for the first time in a long while all my friends were chiming in saying it was their favourite thing I'd done. So I played it for Olan at All City and he convinced me to give it a proper release". Yous is a finely wrought and elemental piece of work, folding in electronic hisses and beats that ground carefully finger-picked guitars (inspired by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt and John Fahey) and stirring violin, weaving between glorious pop-kissed melodies and stark, immersive, poignant compositions – something Kitt does so well. In the spirit of J.J. Cale, Love is Overtaking Me-era Arthur Russell, and Ronnie Lane, the relaxed nature of the album was intentional, “I'm getting my electronics fix from New Jackson, so I wanted to leave room for all the live instrumentation on this, and keep the backing as simple as possible, to let every element have room to breathe, and be heard, and have a strong personality.” The record was largely done by Kitt at his Dublin home, in a “teeny attic room” although old friend and collaborator, Karl Odlum, pops up, and Margie Lewis’s violin plays a crucial role throughout the record, as does Ireland, and more specifically, Dublin. The city, surrounding countryside, and its inhabitants, are a constant thread throughout, giving the album the feel of a personal travelogue that spans two decades. This is explored on “Made It Mine”, a song that was the hardest to finish because of the complexities of trying to capture our particular sense of identity, “The Taste of Without” tackles the financial crash that hit the country especially hard, and the recession that followed, whilst “Like Lightning” explores a night of adventure after a missed bus back home from Galway on the West Coast. The rest of the album, held together by Kitt’s uniquely rich vocals, offers a great deal of variety amidst its cohesiveness. “Keep the Streets Empty for Me” is a Fever Ray cover which he makes his own, whilst other moments harness early Dire Straits-influenced guitar tones, and Serge Gainsbourg grooves. While the closing track, “Song of Two Birds” says Kitt,“Reminds me of the record Bobby Charles made with The Band in Woodstock in the ‘70s, but with Warren Ellis on violin.” Although Yous is a record that is born of a particular place (the title is an Irish colloquial term for the plural of ‘you’), it is equally about personal exploration and a sense of duality, as Kitt reveals, "It also refers to the different versions of ourselves we pass through in life, which is reflected in these songs, which span a ten-year period in terms of writing, and longer, in terms of experience.” Yous is both the “waking” and the “breaking” of the heart that Arthur Russell sings of, and one of Kitt’s best, and most personal musical statements, to date.
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