Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Katie Waissel - Katie Waissel

Confusion set in among the Waissel Warriors last week with the news that a Katie Waissel album - entitled, simply, Katie Waissel - would be released in a matter of days. Katie has said a number of times that she's in no hurry to rush out an album post-X Factor, and is in the middle of touring with the live version of the show. So where had the album come from?

The answer is simple enough - this is the recording she had made for Chamberlain Records in the US, before ever auditioning for The X Factor. All of those stories in the press about being bought out of her record contract by Simon Cowell were not quite accurate. Rather than being bought out fully, it seems Cowell was only able to buy some time, so that the album would not be released while the series was still being filmed.

It's now three months since the final of The X Factor and we have the first album to bear Waissel's name - joining the EP Songs From Under the Covers, attributed to 'Katie V', on the list of Katie Waissel releases, but still not music that takes into account her time on The X Factor or the emotional journey that she went on, or that the Waissel Warriors became a part of.

Katie Waissel - Katie Waissel

High Points

Just the chance to actually hear Katie's distinctive vocal style on another ten tracks is no bad thing. This album includes Moving Mountains, the duet previously attributed to David Reed, but who is demoted to a 'featuring' role here. It's interesting to hear Katie perform a duet, after all those solo performances on The X Factor and in the other of her music to make it into the public sphere one way or the other. It's a sweet and simple track with good harmonics, and the vocals work really well together despite how distinctive Katie's voice is.

Other high points for me include Daddy Didn't Want You, which I'd say is pretty close to what I think of as the 'true' Katie Waissel. It's jazzy, rather than rocky, but it showcases her unique style of delivery well - it took me a while to put my finger on it, but I think one of the things I like most about Waissel is that she doesn't lose her sound, her breathiness and accent, when she sings. This is a prime example of that fact and one that fans of the Katie V EP are likely to love.

Finally, Brighter Than Sunshine is a more upbeat track with stronger backing music and a clear lyrical motif. There's something very mainstream about the track itself, but it's given the unmistakable Waissel stamp. Like all of her music, if you don't like her voice you won't like her songs, but if you do you'll love them. It's largely the fact that she doesn't lose her uniqueness when she sings that tends to drive people's opinions of Katie Waissel to one extreme or the other.

The Verdict

If you've been waiting with bated breath for something - anything - to be released by Katie Waissel, then this album is definitely good news. It's a fine showcase of her vocal ability and of her own sound - which, despite all the changes in outward appearance during The X Factor, has always been well defined. But it's defined as much by its variety as by any one other thing, and it is the unpredictable nature of Katie Waissel's music that won many of her fans over in the first place.

If you're waiting for an album by the Katie Waissel we knew by the end of The X Factor, this still isn't really it. Not least because it was seemingly recorded before Katie's appearance on the show and all of the controversy that surrounded it. That's no criticism of the quality of the music here, but it perhaps holds Katie back from being able to do anything really adventurous in these ten songs. With a veritable army of Waissel Warriors now supplying the wind beneath her wings, I'd expect even more of her personality to be ploughed into the tracks of her next release, if it's still to be recorded.

Setting that aside, I have to sum this one up as a proud fan of Katie Waissel, because there's really no objective way to view her music. This album probably doesn't contain the greatest songs she'll ever record, but it has the variety I've come to love in Katie. Her vocals are somehow fun and inclusive, delivering an acoustic hug to her fans when she can't be there to give them a hug in person - although she would if she could. Recorded before she had the strength of X Factor viewers' support to guarantee her sales numbers, it's a brave debut from a young but rapidly maturing performer who I hope is making headlines for all the right reasons in the years to come.

Final Score: 76%

Katie Waissel - Katie Waissel

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