By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The comparisons to Dido and Joss Stone that surround KT Tunstall are inevitable. She's British and pretty, she sings wonderfully and she was successful right out of the gate, but similarities to her countrywomen end there. Whereas Dido and Stone are content to mine one stylistic vein, Tunstall has dynamited the whole musical mountaintop. Her brand of singer-songwriter music--a strong blend of rock, pop, folk and jazz--casts a far wider net than those other U.K. exports do.
Tunstall doesn't possess the classic beauty of Dido or Stone, but having an Irish dad and a Scottish-Chinese mum gives her a more exotic look to match her more serious, eclectic approach. A better comparison might be to another Brit songstress, Beth Orton. For while Tunstall's debut, Eye to the Telescope, climbed to "top of the pops," as Orton's did, her music demonstrates too much guts for her to be dismissed as a simple "pop star." And if complexity is what you want, arrive early for the solemn songwriting power of Abilene's Micah P. Hinson, whose work with half-Texan, half-British collective the Earlies has earned him a gob of well-deserved European admiration.
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