In her debut album, Roadcake aka Kate Killoran offers us an unedited transcript of her thoughts. They are raw, punctuated by fear and humour. Her only concern when delivering these observations is to tell the truth, and by her own admission, to get your skin prickling and your soul smoothed. And how she does succeed.
Killoran reveals her thoughts with simple instrumentation; she doesn’t want them muddled. Primarily accompanied with just a guitar, though some fun whistling and shaker work crops up in the faith fearing “Dogma” and the last 30 seconds of “Post-Pope” includes an electronic drum beat and a low rumble of what might be a plane taking off, each song is given room to breathe.
In the standout “Luxury,” Killoran is filled with questions while trying to settle the chaos that inhabits her body: “can you live within your candour? could you leave without your many splendours?” In “Post-Pope” she’s weighed down by more uncertainties in the shadows of hate while in “Rock & Demon” she tries to give someone all that she holds only to find this person is already holding too much – “I’d give you my heart if I thought you could hold it.” The only perplexing use of language in the album is the band name, and album title, that Killoran hides herself under. Is it a nod to road kill? A sweet dessert best served in a moving vehicle? A sad combination of both – a cake that’s been run over?? I don’t know…
Which brings me to her voice: To describe it as a warble is too bird-like, too fragile. Killoran’s voice is its own entity. A textured wonder, it ranges from nasally to hushed, excited to mournful, and that’s often just in one breath. Killoran’s voice makes this black and white transcript as vivid as the hues of her album art. She achieves what every singer hopes their voice will do: nestle into your brain and heart and stay there. She dances from wistful to soulful, shy to full of attitude in “Confetti Celebrations” and the stream of consciousness style lyrics of “Lucid Dreams” is child’s play for Killoran as she delivers lyrics like, “cracking tax that faxing back these memories,” with ease. In the closer “Devils,” Killoran punches up, very fittingly, the haunt factor by adding light reverb to her vocals. The result is a swirl of emotions that acts as a last gasp before the song, and album, abruptly ends.
And just like that, we’re cut off from her mind.
Top Tracks: “Luxury”; “Post-Pope”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)