Kirsty Dewar is a Falkirk-based singer-songwriter who has been in the game for fifteen years now, and has worked with a plethora of huge names in pop music, ranging from RONAN KEATING to the SUGABABES. Kirsty got in touch with me through LinkedIn, generally asking about my written content. I supplied her some links, and she was kind enough to trust me with a review. Trust is a strong word; this genuinely isn’t foreshadowing. I promised her a write-up for her latest release; “Rudiment” which came out on September 1st, and despite not being my usual cup of tea, it would have been rude for me to ignore her. Let’s check it out...
We open up with a track called “Alone Again” and it really sets the tone for a generally heavy-hearted listen. It starts with this plodding, anguished percussion and the saddest, softly plucked, echoing guitar strings, and the tracks vibe is one of true pain and longing, before we even get to Dewar’s vocals. She sings of a loneliness and love-loss, facing life's challenges on her own again once more, and she sounds genuinely defeated. This is very emotive stuff.
Following this we have “Waste My Time” which has more of a funk-based, groove-rich approach instrumentally, despite having a similar tempo. There’s more of a swagger and defiance to her vocal delivery in the chorus here, and it’s a more attitude-fuelled track all in all. “The Show Is Never Over” retains elements of funk but houses more of a soft, 80’s pop aesthetic with her clean, semi-soulful vocals, and the retro aspects work well.
So far so good but generally safe, do we have any highlights here that stand out? “Wolves” has a wonderfully gritter indie vibe to the chorus, it’s quite bold and assertive, carrying some lovely vocal hooks akin to MACHINE HEART at times, with a lyrical vulnerability, and more prominent guitar in places that inject life into the track. “To See You” is arguably our choice pick here, as the piano, low-key synth aspects and percussion allow for a simple yet effective pop ballad. It’s easy to see that Dewar has previously worked with Sugababes, as it would easily befit the likes of them, ATOMIC KITTEN or GIRLS ALOUD for example in terms of its tone, layered vocal production and presentation. Not as energetic perhaps but it works.
We round the album off with “Dance In The Shadows” that has more of the hushed vocals over soft piano; very percussion driven and it’s the kind of track that fans of RAE MORRIS would appreciate, before we aptly close things with “This Chapter”. It’s primarily more of the same, and ultimately, we end as we started. That’s not strictly a negative comment, but there is an aspect of this album that is primarily formulaic, bordering on one-dimensional over its run-time.
Sure, here on “Rudiment” Dewar delivers a fine collection of softly emotive, ballad-driven indie pop, with funk, folk and soulful influences sprinkled throughout, giving it enough character to be pleasant, but nothing truly jumps out at you, aside from a few key changes or vocal hooks. I guess the title here is fitting in that aspect as, at its core principles, this is a pretty straightforward, no-nonsense album that revels in its own simplicity. It's not overtly flashy, it’s not ground-breaking, but it is contemporary as a lot of artists like MYLEY CYRUS, BILLIE EILISH and LEWIS CAPALDI etc are all peddling powerfully emotional pop ballads. Dewar has a good quality vocal projection and has plenty of confidence in her singing and song writing, but other than fleeting moments here and there it sticks to its own unwavering path creatively, resulting in a mostly mimetic listen. I guess you could say rudimentary, my dear Watson...