Brooklyn-based indie singer-songwriter Katy Kirby has returned for her second studio album, “Blue Raspberry,” chronicling new discoveries in her first queer relationship.
Known for her crystal-clear, lilting vocals, Kirby first started singing at evangelical worship services in her small Texas hometown before moving to Nashville, where she began writing music and recorded two albums. Signs of her southern religious upbringing make themselves known in her style of singing and instrumental choices — strumming guitars and basic drumbeats.
On “Blue Raspberry,” Kirby takes her time with each track, slowing down from her first album, the more playful sounding “Cool Dry Place." Here, she savors bits and pieces of the relationship in which she realized her queerness. Accompanied by an expanded, orchestral range of instruments, lyrics are carefully crafted to highlight the little things her partner does in her appearance to impress, something that women recognize in other women.
Take “Salt Crystal,” for example. In the simple track backed by piano chords and strings, Kirby admires the beauty in her partner's style and skin: “The rhinestones on your baseball cap reminding me of when the salt left crystal on the sunset of your sunburnt skin," she sings.
Imagery of shiny and sweet artificial objects like cubic zirconia and blue raspberry are used as metaphors throughout the album, signifying things that mimic something real and are still lovely, or even lovelier than the real thing, nonetheless. Blue raspberry is, after all, the best flavor.
“That's where the title comes from,” Kirby said in a press release. “Loving someone for those choices. For the artificiality.”
The question comes up time and time again in her songs, “Why wouldn't that be enough?”
But even the shiniest, sweetest relationships fall apart. Album highlight “Wait Listen” shows a partnership starting to fray, and “Alexandria," recorded live in one take, marks the bitter end. Kirby sings, “Don't let me touch you if I love you any less than she can.”
The final track of the album, “Table,” is a nod to her religious past, a specter that follows her. Lyrics mirror excerpts from the Bible — “He prepares a table for me” — and the music video shows Kirby in Puritan-style dress destroying a table in the middle of a room that appears to host a Quaker meeting.
While the slower style to this album sags slightly with certain songs like “Redemption Arc” and “Hand to Hand," this sappy sweet ode to Kirby's first queer relationship makes for a beautiful listening experience.
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