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Albums Of The Week: This Is The Kit | Careful Of Your Keepers

Aided & abetted by Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys, singer-songwriter Kate Stables expands the sonic horizons of her magnetizing, mermerizing indie-folk songwriting.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Singer-songwriter Kate Stables returns with a wondrous new This Is The Kit album, Careful Of Your Keepers, that chronicles a world of mistakes and mishaps, cruel circumstances and universe-driven surprises. It’s a record that embraces the concept of outrospection — the idea that you get to know oneself by developing relationships and empathic thinking with others — and brings the Paris-based, U.K.-born bandleader’s signature ability to move swiftly between cryptic poetry to honest inquisition to the fore.

Guiding the ship through changing seas is producer Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), who deftly enhances the innate shared language that Stables has with her band, capturing beautiful instrumental performances while leaving the space required for her robust, silken voice to lead. The music here is daring and soft, cutting and warm, a wild feat of complexity and combined dispositions. Surviving change is a constant throughout this record and This Is The Kit takes us to the front lines in More Change, where we celebrate the losing battle of fighting change with barbed dancing lyrics that whisk us from the mundane to the massive as a steady beat and delicate guitars wind in and out, down and around Stables’ words: “light bulb / life changing / found a friend…claw sanity back again.”

The sonic brilliance always comes back to bite and the cascading melodies of Stuck In A Room plant the listener in the most familiar of recent quandaries, wanting to leave but being unable to. There are so many versions of “leaving” one might be attracted to in this disappointing modern age, and Stables works through them all. Conflict hits hard and with surprise but have the right people around you and you can escape by the skin of your teeth.

The album’s propulsive yet introspective lead single Inside Outside finds Stables as magnetic as ever, joined once again by her stalwart band of Rozi Plain (bass/vocals), Neil Smith (guitar) and Jamie Whitby-Coles (drums), and accented by a cascading horn quartet arrangement by Jesse Vernon.

Careful Of Your Keepers is daring and soft, cutting and warm — a wild feat of complexity and combined dispositions. There’s a shared language of the band’s family experience that is as audible as ever in these recordings, which boast beautiful instrumental performances that still leave the nuanced space required for Stables’ vocals to live at the forefront. “The album was nearly called Goodbye Bite. And in a way it still is,” says Stables. “I went for Careful Of Your Keepers in the end. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album, a song that for me holds the general feeling of the album as a whole. The fragility of things. Of situations. Of relationships. Of humans. What we do to look after each other and ourselves. The passing of time and what that does to us, and how we live our lives going forward.”

Stables described Rhys’s role as being a “tonesetter,” watchful and attentive to the band dynamics while making sure to always follow a hunch for where a new sound could find its place in the recording. “I’ve always loved the idea of working with him somehow, and when this album started getting planned, I realized that maybe this was my chance to reach out and see if he was up for working together,” Stables explains. “And he was! As if that wasn’t enough, he was also up for doing a bit of singing on the record, which totally blew my mind and made my year. His way with harmony and melody and the tone and quality of his voice is a totally killer combo.”

“They are so ridiculously talented — and every member is a great producer in their own right — so it was just a matter of trying to capture the magic they make when playing live together,” Rhys says of the recording process. “Their playing is by default so thoughtful and complimentary in terms of respect to each other’s parts and to the integrity of the songs themselves that it creates a beautiful foundation of often cosmic interplay that’s always in aid of Kate’s voice and vision as a songwriter.”


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