Kristie and the Kindred
Back in the 80s Hunters and Collectors front man, Mark Seymour, had the whole of Australia singing, You don’t make me feel like I’m a woman any more, as he took a trip through the detritus of a relationship crashing on the rocks of a musician’s life of constant touring and that big ego that keeps the front person, well, out the front. In 2020, Kristie and the Kindred’s Kristie Smith may just take a leaf out of Seymour’s book with her song, ‘Male Ego’, one of the jewels in the crown of what is an interesting debut from this mysterious band. Have a listen, you’ll know what I mean.
Kristie and the Kindred’s debut album, Trampled, is part passion project, part classic debut that could launch a stellar career for the project’s songwriter and vocalist.
Trampled contains tracks that have the all the pop sensibilities of Roxette at the height of their powers combined with the sort of blues rock swagger that bands like Free and Bad Company made back in the day. It’s an interesting combination and it works well for the most part.
If she had her time again Smith may not do Trampled ‘all the same’. There are some songs on the album, as good as they are, that just don’t belong, sounding like they’re storylines from the soundtrack to a Broadway musical. Then there’s a smaller number of songs that are so personal, they may appeal to an audience of only one. If that sounds harsh, it isn’t meant to be, it’s just that the cutting room floor is there for a good reason.
The trick is not to dwell on these songs, because when Kristie and the Kindred hit the mark they hit it so hard that it’s home run after home run. Every song is a winner. I’ve been listening to these songs on high rotation for a few weeks now and the riffs, hooks and vocal lines are nestled in my head in the most pleasing of ways. This is music you’ll want to come back to time and again and, if you heard one of these tracks on the FM dial of your radio, it wouldn’t sound a bit out of place in-between whatever hits were played either side of it.
“Anything You Want’ syncopates its way through a garnering of self belief, built around the line, You can do anything you want to, lady. It feels like an exhortation to the songwriter herself, but serves equally as well as empowerment for all listeners. The rap that stops by for a visit during the middle eight is the first of many welcome surprises and diversions across the songs on Trampled.
‘Male Ego’ is where guitar beings to rule the roost, built on three power chords that help bring out the range in Smith’s vocals. This is the first time on the album we really hear her stretching out as a vocalist and it makes for very fine listening indeed.
‘Like It Dirty’ continues the theme of empowerment and this is when we really begin to learn about the vocal nuances Smith is capable of. She’s got all the sultry swagger of a Stevie Nicks and the heart, angst and smouldering anger to back it up. By the time the chorus hits it becomes obvious that, as a songwriter, Smith has the capacity to wrap up the complexity of the human condition in just a few well-chosen words and to exercise her authority as an empowered 21st Century woman without having to feel at all coy about her desire. The slide guitar solo that takes this song into the fadeout helps to brand it as a rock classic, but one without all the laddish baggage of yesteryear.
‘I Deserve Better’ strays back onto the pop side of this album’s groove and has an anthemic chorus that will be a perennial sing along should Kristie and the Kindred ever perform live — lights up, band down low and voices in joined in unison: I deserve better! It’ll be quite the moment.
Trampled is an album that holds within its track listing some solid gold classics of the sort that some groups of boys and men still want to be all about the male ego. Kristie’s words and vocals broaden the canon and make it relevant in the 21st Century, and the elements of pop and hip hop thrown in make the songs all the more accessible and fresh. This is a debut worthy of your attention. What happens next is entirely up to Kristie and (her mythical band) the Kindred.
Trampled is released on 30 June on all digital platforms.