Kristen Cothron takes listeners to the ‘edge’

Kynslie Otte

Debut album ‘Show Me Where the Edge Is’ instantly impresses

Artist Kristen Cothron from Nashville, Tenn., started her music career at just 16 years old. Nearly a decade later, release of her debut album “Show Me Where the Edge Is”

marks her 10th studio project and first full-length record.

According to Cothron’s website, she is “Born from a dark Southern psyche charred by half-burned cigarette ash, then soaked in sweet tea.” This eccentric description becomes clearer after taking a listen.

“Edge,” the first track, has a sultry southern jazz feel with an electro-pop beat.

Cothron’s vocals are startlingly unique. She was described by The Memphis Playbook as “Tougher than Fiona Apple, edgier than Norah Jones.” Cothron seductively croons “I’ve got an appetite for what you sell/ so show me where the edge is.”

Cothron’s lyrics are edgy and smart. In the chorus to “Anthem,” she sings “Give you promise and a handshake/ a secret and a smile/ but I’ll write the last check.”

“Darkside” features a subtle jazz beat and an impressive piano solo. It is reminiscent of mid-‘90s Fiona Apple both lyrically and musically. The sound is crisp and clean, and Cothron’s raspy vocals contrast the music beautifully.

In “Maybe It’s You,” Cothron shows her softer side. It begins with a simple chord played on an organ, followed by a gentle guitar riff. The brass instrument feature is a nice touch to contrast the rest of the album.

“You’ve got me mesmerized/ you’ve got me hypnotized/ I never expected this moment to arrive,” Cothron swoons.

Cothron covers the song “Tart” by one of her biggest influences, Elvis Costello.

Cothron’s rendition brings a fresh, new perspective to the song, which is arguably better than the original. The music is more complex, featuring a synthesized solo in the bridge resembling a music box, along with a gospel organ and a French horn in the background.

The French horn reemerges in “What a View,” soloing beautifully at the beginning.

The song focuses less on Cothron’s vocals, which brings out the brass line’s beauty.

“Absolute Celebrity” starts with a bluesy guitar riff, bursting into a big band/jazzy chorus. The lyrics are clever, and Cothron showcases her robust vocals. “Am I sober/well that depends on what comes next,” she sings. This feel-good song is one of the album’s best.

Cothron also covers “Town Cryer” by Elvis Costello. A steel guitar line is prevalent throughout, giving the song a country feel, but Cothron’s vocals are all soul. The brass solo creates an interesting dynamic, providing fresh insight on an old piece. Cothron’s cover is tasteful and easier on the ears than Costello’s choppy vocals.

“Traveling Alone” differs from the album’s other songs. It grooves like a country ballad rather than a jazz or soul piece. Though Cothron’s vocals shine, the song doesn’t accurately represent the rest of hr music.

“Traveling Alone” is the weakest song.

“Show Me Where the Edge Is” is an impressive first full-length album. Every song is unique, and Cothron has effectively developed her own, completely distinctive style. Her vocals are seductive and clean, assuring the album’s instant success.

Costello, Fiona Apple, Amy Winehouse or jazz fans would enjoy Cothron’s April 25th performance at the Czar Bar in Kansas City.

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