4 Stars
(Deluce Recordings) www.katycarr.com
Even for anyone paying close attention to the London-based singer-songwriter Katy Carr’s albums Screwing Lies (2001) and Passion Play (2003), elements of herCoquette (2009) came as a surprise. Its bygone, faux-nostalgic artwork evoked the 1940s. Textually it explored amatory themes whether explicit or dalliance-erotic or, should orchidophile talk count, poetically with Georgia O’Keeffe allusions. Amid Coquette’s temporal and profane love themes, one song – revisited as ‘Kommander’s Car’ on Paszport (‘Passport’) – stuck out. It had a wartime undercurrent and a Polish story.
It also had a macaronic structure. Nice word. It means, in this context, lyrics in more than one language – here English and Polish. It is a lyrical trick that either appeals or might act, theoretically, as a switch-off. Carr sidesteps that impediment on Paszport with two-way-street translations. The Nottingham-born Carr has an Anglo-Scottish father and a Polish mother. Her British upbringing comes across in her accent in the opening track’s snatch of conversation with Kazimierz ‘Kazik’ Piechowski, the Auschwitz escapee, without whom etc… Paszport would not be irrigating our imaginations. When Carr sings, her voice gets more Polish yet develops another fetching and/or sexy quality. (Think Sacha Distel or Françoise Hardy…) Above all else, with their terse or expansive arrangements, it is Carr’s song-narratives that transport.Paszport is truly exceptional. Ken Hunt