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  • Chris Farlie

Kezia Gill - Misfit

Kezia Gill recent career has been nothing short of meteoric, she has managed high profile gigs such as her recent one with Bruce Springsteen, sold out UK tours and now has a brand new album. She manages this by taking her fans with her for the journey and amassing more along the way, despite the fact they can never be quite sure which road she will take them down. Something of a chameleon, she can be Rootsy Kezia, Country Kezia, Rocker Kezia, Balladeer Kezia, each one she will attack with her customary gusto. Because she is so adept at each style, it is hard to pigeonhole her - she is in essence a "Misfit" which is convenient as that is the title of her latest album - ten slices of pure Kezia that will dare you to guess what is coming next and then surpass your expectations.

The album begins with "Misfit" which starts with a storming opening that many an Indy band would struggle to keep up with, before drifting into a more Brothers Osborne style of delivery with a heavy drum and throbbing bass the main backing for Kezia to fire out her lyrics over.

The "Misfit" of the title is clearly herself as she ponders

where she belongs in the musical world

"Don't know where I fit in"

There's also a nod to the fact that this recent success has come a little later than she'd have liked - there is no time to waste - only A to B will do now - no diversions.

"I'm running out of time - trying to walk a wavy line"

It reaches a happy conclusion with "I finally know my place"

It is a fast furious and frantic opener, brash, loud and in your face - a definite opening statement of intent.

From the opening drum intro to the swathes of guitars that follow, "Whiskey Over Ice" has the rootsiness of UK playing with the polish of American production added by having Grammy nominated producer Justin Cortelyou mix and master over in Nashville to give it that "Radio Shine".

It is a song charged with sexual tension from the very off as we are introduced to two people in a bar and they are clicking!

"Isn't it all a bit crazy the way this feels?

From the minute you called me "Baby" I was head over heels

It's like I've known you my whole life but I've just learnt your name

Right here, right now in this bar - things will never be the same"

The chorus, full of drink analogies works exceptionally well, as after all we are in a bar!! It is a rocking chorus that seems destined to be sung back to Kezia at volume at future gigs.

"You're like an ice cold beer - you got me wanting you - ok?

You're like a tall fine wine, taking my cares away

Like a shot of Tequila - baby I can feel ya and it's making my heart race

Something about tonight it just feels right, like Whiskey Over Ice"

The second verse plays again with the drinking analogies and Kezia delivers in a perfect tipsy timbre!

"I'm feeling a little bit tipsy I'm getting drunk on you

I'm not feeling quite so single sharing a double or two"

The bridge acts as a reassuring couple of lines confirming that this is the real deal rather than some sort of drunken entanglement.

"Feels like a dream, like I'm under a spell - it could be the whiskey but I just can't tell

One things for sure even if I was sober - I still would not want this night to be over"

The first of the big ballads comes with "Like I Did Before", one of a number of singles that Kezia has released in the lead up to the album release. written with Kaity Rae the song concentrates on the feelings or lack of after a break up.

It's primarily a piano ballad and we join Kezia, two weeks after a break up. The opening verse is evocative and sensual.

"I still feel you on my skin

Like rain soaked right through this shirt"

There's a definite sense of betrayal in the lines

"I never thought you'd be the one to break me

I'm trying anything to make me happy"

The chorus is an attempt to break out of the miasma that a break up can bring

"Swimming in the open ocean , climbing up the highest mountain

Touching the stars with my fingertips - trying to remember how the feeling hits

Running to the end of the earth to find - somewhere I can get you off my mind

To remember how the feeling hits - cos I don't remember what happy is

I don't smile like I did before"

It's a chorus that Kezia attacks in a variety of different styles - the most affecting being the one that is just her and the piano, before an explosion of orchestration takes over.

There is more of a country tinge to "Tonight" which deals with the after affects of a different type of separation - the ultimate one. It is undoubtedly a personal song however Kezia has tapped into a universal feeling - and these words will resonate strongly with anyone that has lost someone,

"It's 2AM and I can't sleep - it's deathly quiet but I can't speak

Your voice will cut in through the silence it whispers in my ear

But when I turn the lights on you're not here"

Later there is a clever contrast of Kezia singing about life never being the same, played out against the world still spinning with the morning chorus of birds. The arrival of dawn also contrasting with the line

"The nights are the darkest"

It is incredibly vivid powerful honest writing and you instantly know that Kezia has lived every word in the line

"Eventually I know that sleep will come - it's amazing how exhausting it can be to miss someone"

Although mainly acoustic with the softest of percussion, there are at times a heightened sense of musical drama provided by the production.

The third single to come from "Misfits" was "House On The Hill" where Kezia seems to have transported herself back in time to about the early 1980's for the sound inspiration, a time of groups like the Go-Go's and so there is a background of uptempo drums and that familiar intense guitar which sounds fabulous.

Our lips certainly won't be sealed on saying how good this is, for although the sound may seek inspiration from the past, the message remains pure Kezia which is drawing inspiration from all around her. It has served her well so far and will surely do so again.

The Kezia fan base will instantly know to what many of the lines are referring to

When Kezia sings in the second verse about

"I've seen the desert of Australia - Drove across the states of America

Drank wine in Greece and danced in Spain - But I’ve always come back home again"

or in the third verse

"Stepping out on every stage - In cities all around the UK

But my heart won’t find harmony - Till I close my door and it's just you and me"

These are all journeys, that her fan base have vicariously travelled along with her and they will also know the one thing that Kezie treasures above all else, is her home life and the chorus makes that patently clear.

"But I don’t miss the places where I dreamed that I would go

The place I miss the most is where you and I have built our home

A little piece of land, in this world that we’ve explored

A garden with a holly tree and our number on the door

No matter where I wander to my heart remains there still

With you in the house on the hill"

Vocally Kezia is almost restrained on this one - it doesn't need the bombastic approach, the band and the production with its occasional additional echo are generating the excitement required - it just needs Kezia to get her message across and she does that perfectly on this little pop classic.

When "Smokey" first arrived at #TEAMw21 towers it did seem that this might be a stretch to far for many Kezia fans - yet in fact it turned out to be the complete opposite as it raced to the top of itunes charts.

it was loud and scuzzy - Kezia described it as "filthy" It comes with a thumping drum sound that leaves Kezia little option but to take a Robert Plant approach to her vocals - this is not a song for shrinking violets.

There's equally little point in trying to match it to some observational lyrics about the human condition - this needs something as big and bold as the backing track which is where "Smokey" comes in - the sort of character beloved by movies and tv series - living off grid, keeping himself to himself.

Kezia's lyrics are rich in detail describing "Smokey" as a loner with a rifle and a fishing rod!

"Somewhere in a small town, in a one room tin roof shack

Living life kinda slowed down, 3 miles from the rail road track

Staying close to the river,

Killing time fishing down the old wood lake

Lives a man on mission, to stay away from the rat race

He’s a quiet kind a soul with no family ties

Just a rifle on his arm and a dog by his side"

There is little provided as to quite how "Smokey" reached this position in life - leaving the listener to have to close a few gaps themselves.

The lyrics of having "no family ties" and only inheriting a hip flask from his Dad seem a little contradictory with

"He’s not afraid a dyin’, He knows too many people on the other side"

suggesting maybe he was a war veteran who returned traumatised from the ravages of war but that is just pure conjecture.

In essence that is the whole song. it is a musical portrait and it's success depends on how vividly Kezia's creation is able to be realised in her listeners mind.

"Sweet Spot" only slightly mellows that heavy rock blues sound, with what may well be American's equivalent of Madonna's "Into The Groove" - "Only when I'm dancing can I feel this free" - Kezia ties it back to the real 9-5 world where the release comes at the end of the workday.

"It's been a really long week - I've been rushed off my feet

I need somewhere I can go, need to let it out - let it all go"

This a world where the dance floor with it's invite to self expression and sheer freedom gives the feeling

"I've been waiting all day to dance my troubles away"

If there's one track that seems a little out of keeping with the rest of the album then it is the live favourite "No Idea" - it feels a little to much like it is trying to be early Kacey Musgraves.. It's fast paced tune provides a little light relief and it undoubtedly provides a clever turn of phrase and Kezia bursting into laughter at the end suggests that this is most definitely intended to be light hearted.

"Maps will tell you which road to go down - recipes will tell you how to cook

Manuals will show you how it works and how to fix it - but life doesn't come with such a book"

The placing of "No Idea" is surely deliberate, it provides a little light hearted jollity which makes the song that follows all the more powerful as your guard is now down and like a professional boxer Kezia is about to deliver the knock out punch

The "Price Of Loving You" is another piano ballad during which Kezia gives her most purest vocal performance - it is unfussy, timeless singing that could have graced any period over the last eighty years and still been a success. The title alludes to the fact that the price of all the good times with say a parent, is that given the natural course of events the price to be paid will be life at some point without them. Kezia is tapping into a personal well but these feelings are universal and undoubtedly this song will go on to mean as much to others in equally heartbreaking situations.

It needs no great analysis - just read and absorb the chorus and imagine them within the most beautiful ballad sung in a timeless manner.

"I'll pay the price of loving you - it's sad but its true and this I must do

Loving is easy - but losing is hard

Though I wouldn't think twice - I'd still pay the price of loving you"

The album closes with something of a tried and trusted technique which is a letter passing on advice to your younger self. This device allows you to paradoxically tell you life story going forward. As it has been done many times before the success of a song of this type depend on how much the listener either believes or associates with the words being sung. In Kezia's case, with "Dear Me" you believe every word that falls from her lips.

"At 16 you'll fall in love and you'll think he's the one but he's not - he'll just break your heart"


"At 21 you'll feel a million miles from home - trying to find out who you are - build a life to call your own."

Each line is taking from Kezia's own rich tapestry.

It's a delicate song of gently played piano and acoustic guitar along with subtle strings to accompany Kezia's most homespun vocal,

Her letter from the future ends as in fact does the album with a comforting "You'll be ok"

With "Misfits" Kezia has delivered something of a smorgasbord, there's a range of disparate different styles that for many artists might make a recipe for disaster. In Kezia's case it acts as a showcase of her versatility as she handles each style with aplomb, however more importantly as has been shown by the success of the singles released so far, Kezia is not alone on her journey, she has an audience that will follow her through whatever style she cares to deliver and a performer cannot ask for more than that.

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