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Music Reviews

Katey Brooks’ “Revolute”

You’ve heard of the African proverb ‘it takes a village’ which means that it takes all minds, hearts, and hands to raise a child?  well, often it takes a collection of songs to really push the trajectory of a person or people.  And, there are only certain types of artists who create music that can be shared on a wide scale displaying compositions that are made to be enjoyed while being soul-submerging, soul-submerging in that they have the capability to transfer the sad to happy, the unloved to loving, and the caged to freedom.  We got these types of artists with John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, and Carly Simon.  Later we heard this type of music with Lauren Hill and Sting.  Right now, we have Katey Brooks! 

This Bristol, UK artist creates music that compels soul-submerging and emotional freedom.  Brooks’ “Revolute” album is laced with 11 tracks that were inspired by love, loss, and rebirth: 

  1. Never Gonna Let Her Go
  2. All of Me
  3. We the People
  4. Golden Gun
  5. In Your Arms
  6. The Sweetest Things
  7. Burn It Down
  8. Jeremiah
  9. Call Out
  10. In Light of You
  11. Trouble So Hard

I will be interpreting Revolute’s five highlights. 

I’ll start with the opening track “Never Gonna Let Her Go.” 

The album opens powerful with layers, almost operatic, harmonies that are similar to the sound you get with chamber music, and it forces your ears and heart to take in the message at hand.  “Never Gonna Let Her Go” is stoic and impressive track that stands in its truth with the protagonist owning her choice to love whom she chooses to love.  That Dirty South Soul “ooh” backing vocals gives the track weight.  Moreover, the backing vocal adlibs are reminiscent to the 1970s Soul/R&B background notes where they are highlighted with unison modulations and lead the hooks.  This track is a great mix of Psychedelic Soul and Rock.  The guitar stays the dominant instrument setting the mood of “Never Gonna Let Her Go.”   

Talk is cheap!  In a nutshell, that is what “All of Me,” a heavy Soul, Folk-Blues, track relates.  This song was inspired by an incident with Brooks and her lover where love’s reciprocation was imbalanced.  Yes, our actions ALWAYS speak louder than our words, and it is best to give all of yourself than just the pieces you select to give.  The song start out very mellow with a single guitar, and then grows layer by layer with organs, steady percussions, and rich harmonies.  This breakup song is filled with pure honesty.  In addition, the soulful swag of the track’s melody just hooks you right in.  And, I love the way that Brooks used the “I” alliteration in the second verse when she sings “cause never have I let a love like this one in,” and the way that she runs that line with skilled vibrato is just stunning.  This technique just allows her somber, yet strong, vocals flow like honey.  The way that Brooks trills her high and low registers just keep the emotion right close to the chest like a hand of cards.

We the People” is a revolutionary track in that it speaks volumes in so many levels.  On one hand, this is a letter from a lover speaking their truth in terms of their love for another; and then, on the other hand, this track can start a movement of social love with the hook speaking for the socially mute stating “letting me out and let me love you until the end of my soul / we are the people, we are the friends, we are the lovers, we are the only ones, I wanna love you, I wanna free you, I wanna hold, but darling, I don’t want to keep you.”  The piano, twang guitar, and foot stomping bass drum all supports this authoritative track.  And the raw, honest, way that Brooks brings out the soul of this track with straight edge leads and harmonic hooks makes this track modest yet regal.  In addition, Brooks’ italicized adlibs additionally gets the story across being that second voice – a reminder of the artist’s intentions.  These are sung in a drier tone which makes the track very relatable.  This song registers with anyone and puts the PRIDE back into your soul.   

I admire the way that Brooks takes ownership of HER story with “In Your Arms” – a modern Country/Folk track that features a bit of Heartland Rock and just makes you stop and listen.  Brooks uses a conversational method to execute her lyrics which makes the listener envision the character of the song actually looking their lover right in the eyes and announcing their love or sharing their heart.  The backing vocals highlights this heartfelt approach.  Moreover, the layers of harmonies and unisons on “In Your Arms” frames this love letter wonderfully.  This is the sit on the edge of the stage and just remember track. 

And lastly, we have “Burn It Down.” 

Burn It Down” really pulls the curtains back and unleashes the SOUL honey.  The storyline of this track reflects the reality of how women are victimized with society, and how society often places the blame on the woman for being assaulted.  The lyrics suggests how the protagonist of the song will stand with her sisters and burn down anything that stands in the way of social justice for women.  I was captivated by that definitive Soulful sound with the guitars and drumline.  In addition, the scale and range of Brooks vocal prowess, and the tone of her vocal treatment was marvelous – the way she lent herself to the groove and the melody.  Plus, a great vocal accentuation that lends to this track being a crowd pleaser is how Brooks slowly climbs in octaves throughout the track going higher and higher, so by the end, you are standing with fists in the air!

Filled with a wide variety of emotions, and that heavy inner-gut urgent hook, “Burn It Down” is our concept song.  It is freeing, empowering, and memorable.  This is the “I got your back” track that gives a dominate illustration of whenever there is a victim, when we are united, there will be a victor and survivors. 

And while I focused on the above tracks, please take a listen to the passion-pistol “Golden Gun,” the Classic Folk “The Sweetest Things,” the R&B infused “Jeremiah,” and the bold “Calling Out.”  Also, check out “In Light of You,” which meanders like a river into rapids, and finally the Jazz-Bluesy “Trouble So Hard.”  All of these songs are emotionally honest and reflective. 

With today’s music, us music journalists rarely get a hold of music by artists who truly know how to tell a story, not to preach, but to teach a different point of view to awaken closed minds to see things differently.  And in 2019, I am so glad to have been connected to Katey Brooks’ “Revolute.”  

Like a ship’s manifest, each track leaves a kind of music fingerprint showing where the story started and where it is heading with songs illustrating how to reawaken, how to reach back to love again, reach back to start over, how to find your TRUE self, or to search for a difference.  And in conjunction with this broad theme, the listener is left seeing how love is natural, that peace is more powerful than war, and that every person, no matter their religion, race, sexual identity, or education, deserves the highest form of respect.  You leave with a whole other point of view.  WOW! 

And what makes these stories come to life so vividly and transfer so clearly to evoke pride, character, change, and reflection, is the musical foundation on which Brooks build the songs.  A modern fusion of Country, Folk, Pop, Rock, and Soul with elements of Gospel. 

In addition, Brooks vocal skill is untouchable, really.  The way that she follows each musical melody like a second skin, and they way that she alters her notes to contrast the music to give a different audible likeness, is amazing.  She is clever with her adlibs and honest with her stories.  With each vocal register, octave, or pull-back, you can hear victory, defeat, reflection, change, and reality.  It’s the true story tellers who can write and produce as such. 

And while Brooks is the writer, producer, lead vocalist, backing vocalist, and lead / rhythm guitarist of “Revolute,” aiding in this musical interpretation of realism are:  Paul Quinn (mixing and technical Production), engineers: Clint Murphy Paul Quinn, and Tarrant Shepherd, assistant engineers: Dan Patterson and Laurence Nelson.  In addition, Ryan Smith of Sterling Sound did the mastering of “Revolute,” while Paul Quinn contributed male backing vocals, piano, organ and Rhodes.  Jon Short was on bass, and Craig Connect provided the drums and percussions. 

This album is the key that unlocks social cages, unlocks hearts, and unlocks minds.  The way that Brooks writes and plays music just gives anyone the permission to just BE and live life FIERCELY without regrets.

 

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