KT Tunstall was born as Kate Tunstall in the Scottish Town of St.Andrews. Her parents pushed her to learn piano and flute and listened to her play rather than listening to records in the house. At the ripe age of 16, Tunstall began to teach herself the art of guitar and began writing songs and in 2004, after 10 years of labor, “Eye of the Telescope” literally smashed into the U.K. music scene.
Telescope’s rampage would not end until it went double platinum and Tunstall won the British award for Best Female Artist.
Tunstall’s U.S. invasion did not take off until American Idol runner-up, Katharine McPhee, performed the now single “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree” during an episode of the widely known television program. The single was already burning faces in the U.K. but got its exposure on the show. The single has topped charts in different genres including digital, adult, adult contemporary, pop and rock. How does the Scottish native do such wonders?
For starters, it helps that the name on the cover of the album actually appears in the credits. It’s even better when all of the lyrics and music are first credited to that name. Tunstall plays guitar, flute, piano, bass and drums. She got her record deal based on the recordings she made in her bedroom that featured her on all instruments.
Tunstall brings to the table the delicious trio of lyrics, vocals and music to create a golden triangle of bliss. Perhaps wistful bliss, but its bliss none the less. The lyrics are metaphors riding on a Silent Sea. They are simply impressive and deliver an in-depth look into Tunstall’s mind, which only validates her claim to be an insouciant person. Lyrics alone, however, must have a voice to make the taste buds located behind the eardrums salivate with anticipation of a scrumptious culinary delight of sound.
Tunstall’s vocals are rich with tone, versatility and emotion; the music, being of simple structure, only works well with the fully developed voice box from the Eden of the Scottish. It is not packed with incredible accomplishments in instrumental technical prowess but takes a more subtle approach and feeds a steady rhythm. The music compensates for what it lacks in complexity with Tunstall’s emotions dripping from guitars, pianos, etc.
“Eye to the Telescope” is exactly what the title insinuates. It is an eye opener into the definition of an artist. Tunstall writes her lyrics, sings them and plays the music that she inscribed. What a concept! Perhaps somewhere along the way, music lost its mind. When performing live she uses synthesizers to program drum tracks and accompanies herself on guitar as opposed to using backing tracks. When she labored for 10 years, she was playing originals in shows which generally are rough for performers who have yet to make it into the mainstream. Certainly her sweat, bone and the possible proverbial blood went into this album.
Each second is another dose of her soul, which she delivers willingly without shame for who she is and where she has come from. It appears that the key ingredients to musical mastery are the Scottish writing your own music and possessing a vast array of musical influences from Johnny Cash to James Brown. No matter what genre you claim, get over the labels and enjoy this golden triangle from a Scottish powerhouse.