Legs to Make Us Longer
Having turned some important heads with her 2003 Velour debut Everybody Loves You, Kaki King lands on major-label shores with this offbeat disc, refining her identity as a "new acoustic" stylist in the mold of Leo Kottke and the late Michael Hedges. If you happened to catch King on Letterman or Conan, you haven't forgotten her-the young, tiny Atlanta native comes at the fretboard upside-down, often two-handing the neck a la Stanley Jordan or Autograph's Steve Lynch (remember him?). Her music is nothing like theirs, though; it's an engaging mix of pastoral chording ("Frame"), agile finger-picking ("Neanderthal"), and even a bit of Django-ish jazz ("Lies"). But her trademark sound is the busy, propulsive, slap-percussion tour de force, typified by "Playing With Pink Noise" and "Solipsist."
If King borrows liberally from the Windham Hill family of guitarists, she's also mindful of her own idiosyncratic voice-witness the koto-like hidden track "Nails," which follows the tender vocal ballad "My Insect Life." There's also a smattering of electric guitar ("Doing the Wrong Thing," "Can the Gwot Save Us?"), not to mention subtle drums and cymbals, strings and other textures. King's virtuosity and visual presence may have put her on the map, but it's her flair for mood-setting and harmonic surprise that should keep her there.