I may have mentioned the satisfying simplicity of Kate Nash elsewhere but is was well worth the mention and deserves its own space here. English/Irish singer-songwriter at the piano from North Harrow she attracts attention in a most 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 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.
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. From her album Made of Bricks, I listened to the piano lines plunking on her upright honky-tonk piano and story-line lyrics that won over even my classic rock loving girlfriend. Campy yet earnest lyrics unfolded line after line like the the ties on the railway we traveled every morning. She chords attacking with pizzicato-like playfulness to underline the varying scenes of an uncast musical as it were. 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 on the thing itself. To escape the mind bending torture that is piano theory to me, I did what I’d done since I was three or four 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 close friend who reads your thoughts and you theirs, 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 the keys of C and G major (adults or children over 70lbs may arpeggiate through all 88 keys)!
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 creativeness, I treasure Kate Nash’s ability not only to minimalize instrumentally with confidence but also to make good on the essence of what it is to sit down at a piano as a person first and a songwriter second.