Print, Reviews January 19, 2019

Album Review: Kaitlyn Williams – Sunset

by Kevin Johnston

Kaitlyn “Kdubbs” Williams’ voice on “Rain” does the best thing an opening track can do: invite the listener. On her debut LP Sunset (out January 25) she glides over an electro-climax with cool touches of distant synth yowls. It’s a demonstration of her impressive vocal range; the clear focus of the album.

“Time And Time Again” starts with a Chet Faker-esque Fender Rhodes lick and stripped-down “boom bat” beat – ample space for Williams’ silken vocal heed: “Don’t expect me to be a friend time and time again; my heart’s in bruises.”

“In My Mind” opens with acoustic guitar, which seems ever-present in both Williams’ instagram feed and solo shows but appears little on Sunset. Touches of acoustic instrumentation, such as Annie Booth’s gorgeous piano intro to the title track offer a grounding realness amidst this solid soulful pop release. It’s a nod to Williams’ Jacobs School of Music pedigree, though the bulk of the record is a polished passion project of a girl raised on Sadé and Beyoncé (…can I get another “é”?) 

Post intro, the lead single and title track “Sunset” jumps into a hair-blowing-in-the-breeze groove easily mistakable for something off Jungle’s For Ever, though “chill” is the permeating vibe on Sunset. Producers Jared Atol and Nick Spreigl maintain the record’s slinky Baduism and moodiness a lá The Staves, a feat, considering the entire album was recorded in a garage.

Photo by Willym Brown

Stark, James Blake-like piano strides on “Learn You” support an intimate, reflective mood. “I will walk a million miles for you; I will try to say I deserve you” precede the candle-lit hook of “take it all back, take it all in.”

Welcoming synth and 4-on-the-floor kick make for a “coffee house of the future” scene on “Used” – the line “She puts her hands on you. . . she lets you unzip her dress a little bit further” make this also the most “No Ordinary Love” track in the collection.

There’s a youthful power to Kdubzz’ lark-like breathiness too. Closer “Down With Me” reveals fun, Beyoncé-in-the-bathtub tones and vocal runs contrasting her stronger suit of vulnerable introversion. The song’s “holla back” break will likely be a high point for the audience at Sunset’s release event Friday, January 25 at Syntax Physic Opera in Denver. Slip into something more comfortable and prepare for a close, rewarding listen.