KT Tunstall: “Tiger Suit”

Courtesy of Virgin Records

KT Tunstall — the name just triggers the main theme to her last hit “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” This time, she has a new album with a new sound, but still keeps the color of the guitar.

The Scottish-born Tunstall’s third studio album “Tiger Suit” was inspired by the 2010 Chinese New Year, which happens to be the year of the tiger. With that in mind, she created this wonderful album inspired by the fierce animal.

Tunstall describes her album’s sound as “nature techno.” She uses traditional, organic instruments and mixes it with electronic, futuristic sounds, the new craze in music nowadays.

Tunstall is better known in the United Kingdom, while here in America she is just a “two-hit wonder.” She had previous albums that both fared well on the Europeam pop charts. Mostly known as a singer and guitarist, Tunstall also  plays piano on her this album.

Unlike her previous work, this album takes a new artistic turn. Just known as the alternative rock chick, Tunstall incorporates more mainstream sounds of electronic pop music.  But she stays true to herself,.

Even with her new touch, no producer overrode her choice to make this album a “nature techno” one, as she describes her album. The opening track “Uummannaq Song” really sets the tone of the album and introduces her new techno side. It still incorporates her organic style, but with a little touch of campfire music.

Her first single “Fade Like a Shadow” is a great way to introduce her album to the American public. It’s a good post-break-up song, or even a good break-up coping song. It is a song of acceptance and moving on with life, with a message of positive acceptance.

As the CD winds down, “(Still a) Weirdo” is lighter, softer and more heartfelt than the other tracks. This song is one of the more moving ones of the album. She sings her soul out about herself as a person and how she feels in an assessment of herself. This song can relate to anyone, because deep inside we all feel a little weird, and we all must accept our faults and embrace ourselves.

It is such a deep song to an album that might seem shallow at times. Her lyrics are powerful but so subtle, especially due to the instrumentation – the xylophone, acoustic guitar and the light drums in the background.

On the other hand, “Come on, Get it” is reminiscent of the famous hit “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” rowdy and guitar dominant.

Despite these noteworthy songs,, there are a couple of low-notes on the album. The track “Madame Trudeaux” is one in particular. Working from the bottom up, the instrumentation is awful, as the guitar sounds like those obnoxious guitars that punk rock bands like Green Day use, and it doesn’t match anything else that is going on in the background. Tunstall’s voice is annoyingly raspy and almost sounds like screaming. In general, too much goes on and the song itself has little cohesion.

Even with all the highs and lows with each individual track, the album as a whole is wonderful and pleasant to listen to at any time of the day. KT Tunstall definitely has toughened up since her last album, which gives “Tiger Suit” an extra edge from her previous two. If you want a break from all the hip-hop on the radio and listen to a good rock-techno album, this is your answer. Clearly Tunstall knows what she is doing, and is heading in a good direction. While keeping her old aesthetic, the new one is a nice touch that makes her album extra special.

Rating: 4 out of 5