Irish artist KTG (Katie Gallagher) has a voice that is impossible to ignore, and that’s why it’s the first thing to mention in this review of her mini-album, Searching for Magpies – because it will be the first thing you notice, and it will hook you in from the opening track, ‘Don’t Tell My Mother’, which then leads in to a collection of musically eclectic tracks, ranging from folk to soul to pop and rock (and not so much country, but sometimes it’s good to take a detour).
But here’s a suggestion: listen to the last track first. It’s call ‘December’ and it’s recorded live, just KTG and a guitar. While it does make a fine last track, it is also a wonderful introduction to KTG’s abilities and the emotion she conjures. You can then start at the proper beginning, run all the way through the varying styles of songs and still enjoy hearing the song again. Indeed, any of the songs on this album could be performed by KTG alone with a guitar and they would still be compelling, which is a mark not just of her strength in performance but of the structure of the songs.
KTG has said that the album is based on the old tale about magpies (one for sorrow, two for joy, and so on) as each track relates to one of the lines in the rhyme. ‘It was inspired by my fascination for magpies,’ she says, ‘and how paranoid I get when I only see one magpie by itself.’ And while there is a unifying theme, the songs can be enjoyed in and of themselves. For many listeners the album will be an introduction to KTG but she has been performing since the age of five. Now twenty-two, she is clearly an artist in command of her skills and her stories.
Searching for Magpies is out now through Beardfire Music.