Monday, February 25, 2008

"Don't Look Away" From Kate Voegele

Remember a couple of years ago when both Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton emerged on the pop scene and nobody except their hardcore fans could really distinguish between them? Imagine these two women cross bred into a musical lovechild, the result being Kate Voegele. When this up and coming artist left her art education degree at the University of Miami, Ohio to release and pursue her debut album, little did she know that in less than one year she would be receiving national exposure as a recurring character on the CW network’s hit drama “One Tree Hill.”

On the show, Voegele plays Mia, the premiere artist on Peyton’s (Hilarie Burton) newly created record label. Voegele uses this opportunity to play a different song from her record, “Don’t Look Away,” every episode. She portrays them as songs that Mia sings while recording the first album to represent Peyton’s new business endeavor. Since she has become a part of this cult teen television phenomenon, her album has skyrocketed from being unknown to making its way to number 63 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart last week.

Infusing the perfect elements of an ideal pop/rock ratio, it is Voegele’s incredibly unique and distinctive voice that soars on this record that could easily be seen as the twin LP to Ashlee Simpson’s debut “Autobiography.” The album opens up with “Chicago,” an upbeat track about leaving a bad relationship behind to start a new free life. It continues to include tracks such as the inspiring ballad “It’s Only Life,” about looking for light when trapped in darkness, and “No Good,” another fierce anthem of female independence with a hook so catchy that it will stay in your head for at least two days after hearing it.

Next comes “I Won’t Disagree,” the grand prize winner of the 2006 New York City Songwriter’s Circle. This mid-tempo track sticks out simply because it does not follow the theme of the rest of the record. Unlike most of the album which is about a nasty breakup and letting go of someone to grab a hold of herself, Voegele expresses her inner romantic by extending a helping hand and a shoulder for her lover to cry on. “Rock a bye my baby, don’t be blue tonight, oh I’m on my way and I’m gonna make it right” she croons in such a way that the listener can’t help but want to take her up on her offer.

The album closes with the song “Kindly Unspoken,” the current single that is climbing its’ way up the charts (peaking thus far at #66 on the Pop 100). It is this melancholy and raw piano driven ballad that was first featured on “One Tree Hill.” It is the least rock influenced track on the album and sounds more like a trained vocalist pounding her heart away on piano keys at an intimate open mic night in the Lower East Village.

The most refreshing thing about Voegele is her ability to sing mainstream pop music, yet making it seem completely original and her own. She transcends the border between independent artist and featured MTV pop star extremely skillfully, making her sound appeal to fans of various genres. If you don’t want to purchase her album right away, watch an episode of “One Tree Hill” and I guarantee that her rich and gorgeously different voice will have you immediately hooked.


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