Kate Nash

I might have mentioned the satisfying simplicity of Kate Nash elsewhere but is was well worth the mention and deserves its own space here. The English/Irish singer-songwriter at the piano from North Harrow attracts attention in an unassuming way. Her most popular and perhaps most diverse song to date is Foundations, second cut off Made of Bricks. Being her debut album and released only last year it is so refreshing and exciting to see her go platinum and receive so much coverage even if I can’t find her on FM Radio anywhere. I keep her on my mp3 player.

She was great company running from terminal to terminal, switching train for subway, subway for bus, waiting… checking the map… checking it again… and waiting, waiting under the heat lamps where available in the bitter cold. I fell right in love with the five Kate Nash songs I downloaded before I left for Chicago. Made of Bricks showcases piano lines plunking out of her upright honky-tonk-syle piano and story-line lyrics. Campy yet earnest lyrics unfolded line after line like the the railway ties I traveled every morning. She chords, attacking with pizzicato-like playfulness to underline a varying scene of uncast musicals.

In her interview with Live from Abbey Road she describes her love of theatre and acting that is her inspiration for lyric writing. Her storytelling, quirky and unclean, is something I can identify with. My time spent pursuing a music major led me to several long sessions basement practice rooms dominated by glossy, Korean, upright pianos either desperately learning new instruments or playing scales and arpeggios. To escape the mind bending torture of piano theory, I did what I’d done since I was three years old.
For some reason you can be in a certain mood, set your hands down along the keyboard, get a reflection of that mood in sound and vibrations. Nash knows this. What is so enjoyable is that, like a friend who reads your thoughts, you can sit down with either so much weight or exhilaration and see where you fingers will translate your unspoken, underlying feelings. Like an enzyme fits a protein or a prescription fits a symptom, the loud soothing chords wash around your head and reverberate through your arms and off of the walls of the small practice room. Treating better than any hypnotherapists or psychiatrists could aspire to: I II IV chords in the keys of C and F minor (for severe discontent play below Middle C) or I IV V chords in C and G major.

It’s brilliant and Kate Nash doesn’t get in the way of it. She lets her fingers express in progressions unfettered and uncontrived. As much as I love a good head-trip from Regina Spektor and aspire to her creativness, I treasure Kate Nash’s ability not only to minimalize instrumentally with confidence but also make good on the essence of what it is to sit down at an instrument as a person first and a songwriter second.