Those magnificent men in their flying machines… Katy Carr is such a fan that she’s written an album on the theme. Lyrically, Coquette is a Second World War concept piece, paying tribute to the brave chaps who helped save our bacon in the Battle of Britain, and the women who inspired them to do it.
Carr is a qualified pilot, always fascinated by the skies, whose third album injects her sensual oeuvre with a healthy splash of romance. In a voice alternately breathy and yearning and swoopingly multi-octaved, she channels the “beautiful feminine energy” of the likes of Gracie Fields, Katherine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers.
Musically, the album combines the feel of mid-century torch songs and waltzes with elements of traditional folk and spy film soundtracks, and hints of Bat For Lashes and Felt Mountain-era Goldfrapp. Despite these seemingly disparate ingredients, it all hangs together surprisingly cohesively.
This would be great soundtrack music: some tracks are the most convincingly romantic music I’ve heard for a while. The nearness of death creates an intensity to her characters’ yearning while their lovers are away (’Sparkle’, ‘Butterfly’); and to their lovemaking when they return safely once more (’Erotic Days’).
However, not everyone makes it, and the darker emotions are acknowledged on ‘Orchidophile’, where the flowers remind her ‘of a love I once knew’; while closer ‘The White Cliffs’ borrows from Vera Lynn in a story of woman preparing to throw herself over cliffs over her dead airman lover.
The scope broadens on two of the more uptempo numbers. ‘Berliner Song’ pays tribute to the divine Ms Dietrich’s desire to escape the rise of the Nazis and make it on the world stage. And the breathlessly tense ‘Kommander’s Carr puts herself in the place of a group of men escaping Auschwitz.
Richly atmospheric and sensual, this is an album to immerse yourself in. It’s not a collection of classic songs per se, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Pour yourself a glass of red, and prepare to wallow … Review by Ben Wood