Possessing a fleet, light voice and a sly touch, jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson brings both the songs and the sensibility of the Great American Songbook into the 21st century. Her 2009 debut album, Take to the Sky, split the difference between Cole Porter and the Cure, and as she continued to record over the course of the 2010s, she started to incorporate more and more original material on her albums. In 2020, she tipped the balance back toward covers with Dreamers Do. A native of Houston, Texas, Edmonson began to write songs as a child, and after attending South Carolina's College of Charleston for a time, she relocated to Austin, Texas to pursue a musical career. After an unsuccessful audition for the second season of American Idol, she hunkered down in Austin and developed her idiosyncratic vocal style. In 2009, she independently released her debut, Take to the Sky, which wound up climbing into the Top 20 of the Billboard jazz charts. Three years later she issued Way Down Low, which made it to number three on the jazz chart and number one on the Heatseekers chart in the wake of positive notices on NPR and in The New York Times. After Way Down Low, Edmonson signed to Sony Masterworks, which released The Big Picture in 2014. Featuring production by Mitchell Froom, it returned her to the top of the Heatseekers chart and climbed to number two on the Jazz Albums chart. She made an appearance as a singer in Woody Allen's 2016 film Café Society before starting work on her fourth album. Produced by Edmonson, the resulting Old Fashioned Gal was issued in 2018 and became another Top Three jazz album for the singer and songwriter. Two years later, the mostly covers album Dreamers Do was co-produced with Aaron Thurston of indie rock group French Kicks. It featured a guest spot by Bill Frisell on her version of the Disney tune "The Age of Not Believing" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Vocal Jazz - Released July 12, 2013 | Okeh - Sony Masterworks
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Branching away from standards on her second album Way Down Low, Austin-based jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson also expands her musical worldview, going beyond the sophisticated cabaret of her 2009 debut Take to the Sky and creating a breezy neo-tribute to the swinging '60s. That was the decade that produced Brian Wilson's "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," one of the few covers on Way Down Low and a sentiment that applies to Edmonson but in a different way. Where the Beach Boy was pining for the days before rock & roll, Edmonson would certainly feel more comfortable in either the '60s or '50s, where bossa nova, swing, and pop mingled happily, as they do here. Certainly, these sounds give Way Down Low a distinctly retro vibe, but Edmonson isn't living in the past, she's pledging allegiance to a tradition, a tradition she finds flexible enough to refashion for modern times. And Kat Edmonson is a modern girl -- after all, she funded the production of Way Down Low via Kickstarter, a move that gave her artistic freedom and professional production, taking full advantage of those two elements. Way Down Low is rich and varied, as are Edmonson's girlish vocals, which never succumb to cloying sweetness or stereotypical scatting. She's nimble and creative within the boundaries of her chosen traditions, which is why Way Down Low feels simultaneously fresh and timeless. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
Vocal Jazz - Released April 27, 2018 | MRI
Old Fashioned Gal, the title of Kat Edmonson's fourth record, certainly describes the singer. Edmonson doesn't truck with modern styles, whether they're musical or technological, but that doesn't mean she's stuck in the past. She's working an older style -- one that's rooted in the first half of the 20th century -- but she's adding to tradition by writing a set of original songs that blend modern lyrical sensibilities with the style of the Great American Songbook. It's a sly, subtle accent on a record that could be mistaken for an old-fashioned LP -- the music and the arrangements are intimate, yet lush; the tempo is never hurried, which gives Edmonson plenty of time to luxuriate in her melodies -- and that helps give this cabaret music an air of welcome freshness. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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