Artist: Kinnie Star
Label: Violet Inch Records/ MapleMusic Recordings
Review By: Jacob Gehman
Opening tracks are important for an album. An opening track is where a listener's initial impression is formed. Selling a listener right off the bat gives you wiggle room later in an album for some mistakes. A weak opening track is like a straightjacket the rest of the way through.
The first track for Anything, Kinnie Star's fourth album, is a killer opening track. Called "Step Back," it combines a really catchy chorus with edge and texture into a glorious listening experience. Right off the bat the listener is captivated. It is a pop song trying to masquerade as a hip-hop track. Beats are present, although not overpowering, with just a hint of a Bubba Sparxxx country shuffle. Kinnie Star's vocals easily slide in and out of a relaxed rap and a nice singing.
Despite the frequent presence of hip-hop elements in the album, it is delivered in such a way that makes it feel more like the product of a poetry slam than gangsters on the street. It isn't hip-hop for hip-hop's sake. It is hip-hop because the music feels right with it.
The album, despite the strong opening couple of tracks, has some duds. "Up In Smoke" is such a track. The instrumentation is boring while feeling out of sync with Star's vocals. The song, unlike some of the other tracks which start off questionable, never evolves in any way to surprise the listener. With some vocalists this wouldn't be quite the death sentence, but Kinnie Star is nowhere near a strong enough singer to carry a song without any interesting instrumentation.
Star does many different things on this album from a vocal standpoint. The variety is good because, as mentioned, she isn't a stellar vocalist on her own. Mixing up her style from song to song or verse to chorus is a nice way to keep the listener from focusing on the raw qualities of her voice and instead on her strengths.
Her biggest strength is in creating a good groove, writing a good pop chorus, and then mixing things up before they get boring or predictable. It works well, at least for the larger half of the album. The rest of the tracks are nice filler that don't distract too much from the overall scope of the album.
Kinnie Star is kind of like Bjork without the crazy vocals, mixed with some Ani DiFranco. There are definitely some stumbles on this album, but there are enough great songs to forgive them if you're into the afore mentioned artists.