Singer-songwriter Kirsty Lee Akers has released a new album, Under My Skin, and because she released it in July and I missed the release date, I’ll keep this short and sweet in the interests of not delaying further … This is Akers’s fifth album and the first for which she has acted as a producer. But, really, on her fifth go-round it makes sense that she knows her sound better than anyone – and it’s clear on this album that she does. This is a cohesive, intelligently written and produced collection of country rock/pop. Akers knows how to write a catchy hook and also a melody that suits her robust, mellifluous voice.
Country rock and pop are, as noted elsewhere on this site, a growing genre in Australia. Akers leans towards the rock side and finds a distinctive place within it, as do The McClymonts, by honouring her sound and her voice. She’s not trying to sound like anyone else, and she shouldn’t, because this is a great collection of infectious songs that serve to entertain and also make you stop and think.
As a last note: I certainly hope this isn’t the last album she produces, and that she’ll produce for others.
Under My Skin is out now through Social Family Records.
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I’ve seen Kirsty Lee Akers perform live a few times, and each time I’ve been impressed: she has a fantastic voice and she engages well with an audience. But in the past I hadn’t found that her recorded work matched her live performance. She’s not the first artist this has happened to, of course. The electricity of a live performance can be hard to capture in a studio environment, perhaps because the audience isn’t there for the artist to work off, especially if they’re an artist who needs that or thrives on it. So that’s why there has been no coverage of Akers on this site, until now.
When I first heard Akers’s new album, Burn Baby Burn, my thought was: Finally.As in, finally there was an album that showcased her properly. Akers’s voice, with the wrong songs, could sound too much like pop when she’s actually got a great country voice. She can slip and slide into and out of notes with the best of them. She has a twang that lends itself far more to country than pop, and she has a knowing quality that is often absent in pop.
On Burn Baby Burn she now has the songs that allow her to show off her abilities while also making capturing some of the catchiness of pop that keeps people coming back for more. If it’s not entirely the album I want from her – I’m convinced she’s got some grit to uncover or explore – it’s still an album I’ve been listening to happily, over and over, because it’s a pleasure.
Burn Baby Burn is out now through Maven Records/Sony.