Note: Most of what was written here is from a June 11 “Artist to Watch” post showcasing Fatty Gets A Stylist (FGAS), which is the name of a side project featuring Kate Miller-Heidke (KMH) on vocals. The CD was released digitally in the U.S. for a brief period during the summer and then pulled (although I purchased it as soon as it was released). It was then repackaged here as a new KMH album titled “Liberty Bell” and released this past Tuesday, so I figured I would repost my thoughts on the album and change all the FGAS references to KMH.
“Libery Bell” (iTunes link) by Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke is an 80s-influenced, mostly techno-inspired album that has been released in other parts of the world under the name Fatty Gets A Stylist, a side project with Miller-Heidke’s husband and collaborator Keir Nuttall (guitars, programming).
I have been a fan of Miller-Heidke’s since April 2010, when I saw her (with Nuttall accompanying on guitar) open for Ben Folds in Montclair, N.J., a show I wrote about here. I immediately became a fan — so much so that I did something I rarely ever do and bought Miller-Heidke’s fantastic CD “Curiouser” (iTunes link) at the show. It’s one of my favorite all-time CDs.
Miller-Heidke has a tremendous voice with great range. In fact, she’s a classically trained opera singer who has performed professionally with Opera Queensland. On “Liberty Bell,” she is actually singing mostly in a lower register than normal so, at times, I forget that the vocalist I’m hearing is really Miller-Heidke. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but it’s not until a couple of vocal holds at the end of the album’s closing track, the Gary Numan-esque “The Plane Went Down,” when you really hear the operatic quality of Miller-Heidke’s voice break through.
People in the New York area may not realize it, but they have likely heard the album’s lead track “Are You Ready?” as it is being used in a current New York Lotto advertising campaign.
There is so much energy and fun to be found on “Liberty Bell.” After kicking off with the previously mentioned “Are You Ready?”, the album continues with “The Devil’s in the Details,” a pure dance track complete with banjo that recalls Rednex’s version of “Cotton Eye Joe.”
One of my favorite tracks on the CD, “Holloway Park,” immediately brings to mind techno/new wave acts like Missing Persons. Actually, it seems like little pieces of the album have been plucked right out of the 80s and placed into the 11 tracks on “Liberty Bell.” In addition to the previously mentioned Gary Numan touches on “The Plane Went Down,” the ballad “Let Me Fade” has elements of classic Howard Jones and Kate Bush while “Better in Spain” evokes Roxy Music.
By the way, since touring with Folds in the U.S. in 2010, Miller-Heidke has also opened for him in Australia and contributed backing vocals on Folds’ recent album, “Lonely Avenue,” featuring lyrics by writer Nick Hornby. While I haven’t been able to confirm it, I think Folds returns the favor by singing a five-second backing vocal around 1:55 into “The Plane Went Down.” I really hope it is him since I think it would be appropriate that the writer and singer of a song called “Landed” would also provide some vocals to a song referencing a plane crash, which is really just another kind of landing.
Check out the links below for Kate Miller-Heidke:
Web – www.katemh.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/katemillerheidke
Twitter – www.twitter.com/kmillerheidke
MySpace – www.myspace.com/katemillerheidke
YouTube – www.youtube.com/katemillerheidke
And watch the video for “Are You Ready?” — which goes from great fun to a somewhat creepy and weird ending — in the player below.