Singer-songwriter, Katy Vernon was born and raised in London, UK but in the past dozen or so years has established herself as one of the busiest musicians in Minnesota. She has appeared at Festivals in both the Midwest and UK. In addition to more than 50 shows a year she also puts on a popular annual Ukulele Fest to raise funds for charity. Vernon’s now releases her new album “Suit Of Hearts”, and on first listening, it’s impressive. Katy Vernon’s voice is pure gold, and her songs are so full of emotion and energy that it is impossible to not pay complete attention to every song, regardless of what you were doing when you started listening. Finding this album is one of the happiest surprises I’ve had in a while. If you have any interest in organically driven music, you would be nuts not to grab hold of this amazing musical experience, regardless of your musical preferences.
Katy Vernon is usually huddled into the Folk music corner, but she’s a whole lot more than that. Her arrangements are thoroughly fleshed out with full band sonics, horns, harmonies and all. The sound is layered and lush, with just enough raw and rough edginess to make sure you know she is not part of the major-label, conveyor-belt production series.
And if the sound alone doesn’t convince you, her songs certainly will. Not to mention that Vernon’s voice is a joy to listen to in a sea of mediocre, winsome, whiny girlie singers who neither write nor play an instrument, and have no idea what real artistry is all about.
Despite the narratives of anguish and affliction, at the end it’s surely impossible to listen to this 12 track album without raising your hands to the sky in an expression of glorious joy, for someone finding strength and hope through those emotions.
The album starts off in an upbeat and rhythmic manner with the robust tile track, “Suit of Hearts”, but it’s the slower second track, “Listen”, that completely hijacks my attention. Vernon’s high pitched voice is both poignant and sublime, piercing your soul with a deeply personal and instantly relatable song.
Its songs like this that can give voice to those who have none, or give words to emotions that are difficult to explain. Moreover, it can wrap hard truths into a palatable musical package. Something the Ukulele playing Katy Vernon, executes with laser sharp precision throughout the album.
On “In Your Shoes (For Daisy)”, she continues to dazzle fans with her multitude of vocal and musical styles, as well as her subject matter. This is another foot stomper. “Home” is one of my favorites with an almost mid-tempo Latin swing and fiery guitar interludes.
Katy Vernon’s greatest gift is that she is an exquisite singer. She can be tough, and she can be tender, with equal ease. Her vocals are never forced. She is always in her comfort zone, regardless of which side of her extensive range she’s on.
So whether its’ the expansive momentum of “Latest Disaster”, the poignant melody of “Catch Myself”, or the baroque pace of “Look to the Sea”, her bold and ambitious tonal changes transition with flexible fluency. There is also a good amount of upbeat instrumental variety present throughout the album, which never succumbs to the issue of too many overly dramatic ballads littered throughout its duration.
The slower instances, such as “Undertow”, “Somebody’s Daughter’s Daughter” and “Listen (Strings And Voice Mix)”, bring welcome atmospheric changes that never break up the smooth flow of the recording, but rather, add meaningful emotional substance, which is a key factor for this music. With “Suit of Hearts”, it becomes so compellingly obvious that Katy Vernon is very much someone to watch and definitely someone to listen to.