Wickedly Catchy, Artsy Noir Piano Rock from Hudson K

by delarue

If you like Amanda Palmer, you’ll love Hudson K. The singer/keyboardist is at the Delancey on June 25 at 9. She’s got three albums up at her Bandcamp page including her 2010 release Shine, which is available as a free download -and has been sitting on the hard drive here since before this blog existed. Why so long to mention it? Waiting for her to play a show here, of course.

She’s a great tunesmith: many of the artsy, sometimes cabaret-flavored songs here are catchy beyond belief. Rippling, sometimes ornate layers of piano, organ and other keys mingle with tasty, tasteful electric guitar over a tight rhythm section. There’s also a little bit of an 80s feel to some of the songs, starting with the first track, Fade, with its hint of a second-generation retro-Motown bounce. All the Things I Never Say is sort of stadium-era Who done as dark cabaret, morphing into a brief southern-flavored jam. The pulsing title track sets stagy vocals over a biting clavinova tune, while Champion sets gorgeous Memphis soul guitar against a theatrical 80s-pop sheen.

Intricate orchestration disguises the inner pop song in I Gave It All, while Rattled reaches for a slow-burning va-voom cabaret-rock ambience. With its waltzing baroque intro and seductive vocals, I Could Learn from You sounds like Vera Beren without the screaming guitars. The most cabaret-oriented song here is Prayer for Love, dancing flute contrasting with hard-hitting, low-register piano, while Where Did You Go is the most allusive and menacing, a big anthem rising with waves of ominous organ. The album ends with a heavily altered live version of the old Irish ballad Oh Whiskey. Rip the tracks and check out the similarly dark, tuneful stuff she’s done since then.