Kalen – Falling from the Sun (2012)

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Even as so many singers today seem to be reluctant to give themselves over to the lyric, more concerned with histrionics than connecting on an emotional level, Kalen’s new EP cuts a different path. Her vocals soar and swoon in perfect sync with songs delving into every complexity of life and love.

Falling from the Sun begins with “Island,” this layered meditation on separation. Kalen sings with the anthematic vulnerability of Kate Bush, but her compositions are straight forward, less florid. More interesting than that easy comparison, however, is the way “Island” moves with such purposeful ambition from its initial heartbroken poignancy toward a hard-eyed sense of resiliency.

Her title track continues along this thematic edge, as a heartbreak evolves into an angry push back. As with “Island,” the lyric is couched in a spacious setting, with sensuous keyboards, an insistent rhythm signature, and only the lightest of guitar flourishes — before the Exeter, New Hampshire-born, Ivy League-educated singer-songwriter ramps up toward the track’s swirling bridge. The contemplative mood is then snapped by this lithe groove within “Rabid Girl,” a half-spoken, half-sung song about a woman’s dark descend into drink that recalls some of the angular joys of early Peter Gabriel.

“Neda,” meanwhile, is both intimate and yet brilliantly abstract musically — another example of the mystical pop joys that surrounded “Island.” Kalen sings with a grease-popping soulfuness on the churchy “Hit the Road,” offering this scalding self-examination of a lost passion over a nervy piano and swooning background vocals.

Finally, there’s the stripped-bare, ruminative “If It Takes a Lifetime” which, very much recalling the spacious fragility of Tori Amos, brings this new EP to its proper conclusion: Falling from the Sun is brooding, yet oddly beautiful.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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