The delicately effortless quality of Kat Edmonson’s voice makes her sophomore album, Way Down Low, what could be considered easy listening, but its romantic, vintage sound warrants closer attention. Hints of Billie Holiday and a jazzier Feist make Edmonson’s songs feel familiar.
From the more classic jazz-club piano in “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” to the Latin-influenced acoustic guitar and percussion in “What Else Can I Do,” Edmonson’s album has a degree of diversity, even with her classic voice staying true to its wistful style.
The duet with Lyle Lovett on “Long Way Home” provides a nostalgic vocal contrast while remaining soft and sweet. These are the kind of tracks that evoke an older time in jazz and pop music history, but would also undoubtedly be used in a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie circa 1990. Edmonson’s in good company, though—Harry Nilsson has often been a staple in romantic comedy soundtracks.
Houston native Edmonson has performed with Willie Nelson and opened for Smokey Robinson. Her sound isn’t necessarily indicative of her Texas roots, but it complements the genre with an equal focus on lyrical nuance.
Way Down Low pays respect to the venerable sounds of the past with a modern approach. It is surprising to learn that Edmonson tried out and made it to the top 48 in American Idol’s second season, considering her vocal character. But her attempt to bring the seasoned style back to the charts with Way Down Low seems poised to be a success.
In order to listen to this album in its entirety, a love for a 1930s approach to vocals and musical tenor is in order. It’s the kind of music that evokes times of cocktail parties and proper romance.