KT Tunstall
Eye To The Telescope



by USER (43 Reviews)
November 1st, 2005 | 24 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Kate "KT" Tunstall is a singer-songwriter who graced the music scene in 2004 with her debut release, the False Alarm EP. It got her noticed in the British indie scene, and the 4 tracks from that very EP made it onto her first album, Eye To The Telescope. The album initially didn't get much notice in the public eye, entering the charts at No. 73 and quickly dropping out again. But her nomination for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize (And performance at the same event) brought more attention to her style of play, and to a lesser extent, her image, and the album quickly roared up the charts, eventually reaching No. 7 before slowing declining down. Most recently though, she was awarded a Q award for her song, "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree", beating out the likes of James Blunt, Coldplay, Oasis and even U2.

The record begins with the first single, "Other Side Of The World". It feels very soulful, with a downbeat melody of softly strummed guitar and KT's vocals over the top. They sound very strong and at the same time tempting, and it all feels quite unique against the modern day pop scene. It's a perfect indie-pop tune, spilling with cheery feelings as her voice gets higher and rings out at the end. It's followed up by the not so cheery "Another Place To Fall", which begins with a much darker and Western vibe. The structured timing of the strumming and backing instruments really add a level of tension in the verses, and are oddly followed up by a much happier-sounding chorus, which feels more like the opening song. I personally think this is one of the best on the album, as it shows off all the sides of KT's songwriting styles, combining both the more mainstream radio-friendly themes with darker and much more expressive styles. "Under The Weather" explores more of KT's blues inspirations, with a delicate opening and a picked acoustic guitar backing her up. It's a soothing song, although from the lyrics (And title) you can make out it supposed to be slightly depressing. The song builds up nicely as well, welcoming a second acoustic and more Western strong vocals right at the end.

"Suddenly I See" sounds like it was made to be a single, but it sounds like one of those singles which you can't forget because it's so great. There's not much folksy playing in this song, it's more of a indie-pop tune with nice basslines, tambourines tapping away and echoing backing vocals all adding to the upbeat tempo as KT sings as well as she does. It feels a little out of place after the last two songs, but it's another impressive effort in itself. "Miniature Disasters" feels more like KT's songwriting style, with a bluesy acoustic melody playing away as the drums play a simple beat, and hands clap alongside it. The lyrics are much more agrressive for her too, with words like "I don't want to be second best/Don't want to stand in line/Don't want to fall behind" sung with passion and strength. Once again though, the mood is broken with "Silent Sea", a much more melodic attempt. "And the harder they hit me, the less I seem to bruise" is just one of the short yet sweet lyrics in this song, which is back to basics; a simple picked acoustic guitar, lightly strummed guitar and KT's voice. It feels quite striking and grand, and softly fades out at the end.

So she's covered some ground, and only furthers it with the more electronic "Universe And U" (I do hate that title though). Gentle strumming of an electric guitar and much more dance-style drum beats accompany her vocals in the verses, and build into a sweet chorus with tiny bursts from the electric guitar and some sort of noise in the background, like static bass or something. It all adds a sense of realism to the album, and makes newcomers not used to the acoustic indie style more welcome. "False Alarm" is a very melancholy song, filled with more soothing guitars and carefully layered vocals. She sounds great as always in this, but it doesn't really offer as much as I already sampled beforehand. The low volume of the song makes it slightly boring, and after the occasional upbeat song from the album, it�s hard to keep switching between the styles of song. "Heal Over" feels much more at home, sticking to the solo acoustic and dual vocals which worked for her on previous songs. Her voice sounds astonishing on this song, bringing in different pitches and backing vocals to emphasize them and bring the best out of them. Quite a beautiful and yet simple song. After about 3 minutes, it suddenly then brings in a picked acoustic, slow drum beat and a very effortless bassline, and it adds more variety to the song and gives the listener a little surprise.

"Stoppin' The Love" is another electric indie-rock ballad, beginning with sort of distorted drumming and yet more clapping, then bringing in a rough and raw sounding guitar. It's feels very weird with the backing vocals, which sound scrambled and are in the song far too much. Other than that, this is typical KT Tunstall, adding a folk to her already successful indie pop style. It's followed up by another seemingly misplaced song, "Through The Dark". This is different in that it's piano-based rather than acoustic, and again it brings something new to both the album and the listener. However, at just under 4 minutes, and with a very downbeat tempo, it does drag out a little. The album ends with the truly spectacular "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree", performed live on Jools Holland. You'll wonder how she played it live, and with the help of some pedals, it sounds like it's played straight from the studio. Those 'Woohoo, woo' sounds will stick with you throughout the song, and against a unique acoustic melody and her strong vocals (Bearing in mind it's live), it truly is the best song on the album, even if it is a bonus track.

She may be compared to the likes of Dido, Joss Stone or Nelly Furtado in that she's another female pop singer who can actually write and sing songs, but KT's style is much different, and it shows in her songwriting. The many different styles and themes which grace this record prove it's not a fluke, however, this is also the record�s downfall. Where some songs are upbeat and cheery ("Other Side Of The World", "Suddenly I See", "False Alarm"), others are much less happy and have a side of gloominess to them ("Under The Weather", "Miniature Disasters", "Silent Sea"). This wouldn't be so bad, but the way the album is arranged, you end up losing track of the vibe you should be getting from the album, and it feels very unstructured. But still, if it's song quality you want, this is a perfect place to look. Songs like "Another Place To Fall" and "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree" bring out the best in this girl, with signs of confidence, fresh sounds and unforgettable melody. I'm sure this won't be the last we see of this young rising star.

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user ratings (83)

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 1st 2005


Typically good review. I don't like Tunstall, personally though. Her songs never really seem to go anywhere, to the point where it becomes quite annoying after while. I think she's got a bit of potential, but she's missing something.

Skinhead On The MBTA
November 1st 2005


KT Tunstall is much better than Dido, Joss Stone and Nelly Furtado, but I'm not so much of a big fan. Like Med says, she seems to have potential, but needs something extra just to mate it complete. I quite like Suddenly I See though. Not heard much of the rest of her songs, so I can't really comment on those. Good review by the way.

November 1st 2005


KT Tunstall isn't that bad.Suddenly I See'' is a briliant pop song and I love it.I may pick up this album one day.This Message Edited On 11.01.05This Message Edited On 11.01.05

November 2nd 2005


Great review! Anyway, it took me a few listens but I'm rather enjoying this album now =)

January 26th 2006


I already own this album and just love it great song on it, you have to give her some credit, making an original pop album is quite unusual this days,
About the arrangement is nothing you couldn't fix burning it on the right order

January 26th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

I like this album a lot.

January 26th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

I liked this album. A good refreshing change, and no just pure pop.

February 19th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, just found this... I love 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree' and 'Suddenly I see'

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
February 19th 2006


Album Rating: 2.5

Dammit i was gonna review this first!

Anyway this was a damn fine review. I like KT Tunstall's Black Horse, but other than that, I find most of her songs very typical Jewel, Tori Amos, acoustic girl stuff.This Message Edited On 02.19.06

February 19th 2006


i've only heard "black horse and the cherry tree" "suddenly i see" and "the other side of the world", and despite the fact that my tastes are usually firmly in teh rock/punk/metal brackets, i fucking love this!!!

this is pop with actual substance and integrity.

February 20th 2006


She won some Brit awards last week, and I'm really at a loss to see how (particularly beating Kate Bush). I mean, this is very accessible and all that, but it pretty much just bobs along and when the CD ends you don't really remember anything that happened in it. That's my take on it, anyway.

February 20th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I disagree, this has been stuck in my head all week

February 20th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

I recently acquired the album, I have to say there isn't really song I dislike. I can see where (as Med suggests) this consistency can become very boring, but I think some tracks are better than your average catchy pop song. 'Other Side of the World' particuarly has a brillaitn vocal performance.

oh, good reivew by the way.

February 25th 2006


got the album today just as way to use up my money at best buy and i have to say, i was impressed. she has a great voice to match her music choice. its just simple, beautiful, poppy music.

and phenominal review.

June 5th 2006


Great live!

June 5th 2006


Nice review =) I got the album last year and it's still on my regular playlist. "Otherside of the World" is my favourite track on the CD, closely followed by "Black Horse and The Cherry Tree".
And yeah I agree that she does some great lives!

Activista anti-MTV
June 29th 2006


I like this album, because she does not get naked and bend over backwards to get your attention. I think she still lacks an attitude with her songs though. Just just kind of blah after a while. I still thinks she great though. This is where I stop rambling.This Message Edited On 06.29.06

May 21st 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

Pretty good pop album.

August 22nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Really really good album, can't wait for Drastic Fantastic.

February 6th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

Black Horse is AWESOME. and i am an avid hater of most contemporary pop, but this...ladies and gentleman...is what i call i diamond in the rough!

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