KT Tunstall — the Scottish singer-songwriter who made headlines with a plethora of chart-topping hits — has started moving away from her home genre of indie alt-pop towards funky and exciting dance-pop in a vivid display of her versatility as an artist.
Tunstall emerged onto the scene in 2004 with the release of her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, spanning the folk-indie and indie-pop genres. Most notable from this release was her track, “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” which won the Q Award of Best Track in 2005. It also garnered her a 2007 Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Five subsequent albums followed Tunstall’s 2004 release, all centering around the same folk-pop sound as Eye to the Telescope. Aside from notable live performances on The Ellen Degeneres Show and the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Concert, Tunstall’s beautiful harmonies and ethereal sounds pushed her songs into the soundtracks of popular films like the 2016 comedy “Bad Moms” and the 2015 dramedy “About Ray.”
Tunstall unveiled the beginnings of her transition towards pop-rock and dance-pop with the release of her fifth studio album, KIN, in September of 2016. The album spans eleven tracks and is the first in an album trilogy that covers the themes of the soul, body, and mind respectively. It was succeeded by the 2018 release WAX, following the same genre shift and themes as its predecessor.
“KIN is maybe the most bombastic album I’ve ever written,” Tunstall told The Daily Free Press. “There are definite similarities to the first album I put out, but I’m in a very different place now where I have a confidence and mojo that I’ve never had before.”
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Tunstall also touched on the change in her songwriting inspiration with the Daily Free Press, explaining, “I was telling stories about other people and the way other people felt. I had to realize if I’m going to make albums, I need to be vulnerable. It’s one of the most important parts of my job as a songwriter. The beautiful sweet spot of writing songs is to be as vulnerable as possible, but yet to have all of your strengths and feel strong at the same time and allow yourself to be vulnerable within your strength.”
Her most recent track is a classic-cut piece of dance-pop genius, created in part with Italian DJ and producer Molella. The contrast between the 2020 release and Tunstall’s 2004 folk-blues “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” is stark and almost shocking to listeners who may have forgotten about the singer-songwriter throughout the past decade. She’s clearly reinvented herself as an EDM-leaning radio-ready popstress, layering catchy melodies, electronic beats, and a killer bassline — all the classic components of dance-pop.
Fans eagerly await the third album in the trilogy, set to release at the end of this year. Listeners can expect catchy, radio-cut hits and dance-worthy beats. In terms of Tunstall’s live performances? It’s certainly not a reach to expect a new and exciting upbeat tone to the singer-songwriter’s plethora of success.
Natalie is a creative contributor writer from Washington.