San Francisco – Leonard Cohen once sang, “I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” Anyone familiar with the man’s whispery, ragged delivery knows he was being a bit facetious when he wrote this line (Cohen? Facetious? Unbelievable). Strip away the irony, however, and this lyric perfectly describes the stunning, indeed golden, voice of Kat Robichaud. It’s a voice that can tackle both tender ballads and blazing rockers; a voice containing traces of Joplin’s heartbreak and shades of Karen O’s eccentricity; a voice that doesn’t satisfy only because you can never hear enough of it.
It’s also a voice that catapulted her to a top ten contestant spot on The Voice, that hackneyed American Idol rip-off attempting to sell talent in between fast food and prescription pill ads. Of course Robichaud’s outspoken manner and swaggering demeanor were probably too much for the overweight and depressed demographics to handle, so she didn’t end up as a winner of fifteen minutes of fame. Instead, she was endorsed by Amanda Fucking Palmer, launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her debut LP, and turned that debut LP into one of the best releases of the year.
Simply entitled Kat Robichaud and the Darling Misfits, it’s a tour-de-force of theatrical rock n’ roll glory, a testament to everything that makes this genre so exciting and over-the-top and occasionally absurd. Reveling in its own glam grandiosity, the album is full of singalong choruses (the hook-filled breakup anthem “Uh Oh”), punchy backbeats (the explosive dance party starter “Somebody Call the Doctor”) and epic slow jams (the tearful showstopper “Why Do You Love Me Now?”). The whole thing is endearingly odd, a little brash, and wonderfully dramatic, recalling the Starman days of David Bowie and the underrated, ambitious arrangements of Sparks. In an era where much of independent music is decidedly lo-fi, Robichaud pops in high definition. She is unapologetically in-your-face and, after you hear her, there’s no other place you’d want her to be.
Robichaud’s been busy lately, playing numerous shows around the Bay Area with her backing band The Darling Misfits and releasing a few music videos in support of her album. Her latest is for “The Apple Pie and the Knife,” a song about her experience on The Voice, full of acerbic lyrics and a razor sharp melody. If there’s any actual bitterness remaining from her time on that show, Robichaud should take comfort in the fact that she didn’t lose anything important. She’s still got her imposing personality, artistic freedom and, of course, that earth-shattering voice. Add to that a fabulous debut record and you’ve pretty much reached the definition of a winner.
More information on Kat Robichaud, and a link to purchase a copy of her album, can be accessed here.
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