Legs to Make Us Longer is extraordinary guitarist Kaki King's second album, and her first for Epic's Red Ink imprint. As such, it reflects its major-label status in higher production values from cover art to exquisite sound. Produced by guitarist David Torn, the album also marks a step from King's solo guitar debut. The stunning yet soulful ...
Legs to Make Us Longer is extraordinary guitarist Kaki King's second album, and her first for Epic's Red Ink imprint. As such, it reflects its major-label status in higher production values from cover art to exquisite sound. Produced by guitarist David Torn, the album also marks a step from King's solo guitar debut. The stunning yet soulful technique King delivered on Everybody Loves You is everywhere present, from her thumb-over-the-top basslines and tapping harmonics to extended, two-handed melodies. But some other things are here as well -- an upright bass here, a drum kit here, strings in various places -- adding more dimension and texture to King's trademark songwriting for solo guitar. The employment of drums and upright bass on "Ingots" is startling at first, but hardly distracting, as Torn's nuance and tasteful production are never intrusive. The tune is one of the most lyrical in her repertoire and literally sings with its midrange harmonics and colorful chording. On "Doing the Wrong Thing," skittering snares shimmer across the backdrop before engaging in a full-on counterpoint with King in a speedy yet wispy dance through motion and space, before cellist Erik Friedlander and violinist/violist Joyce Hammann slip into the mix at four minutes to take the tune out into the ether. King plays an electric guitar on "Can the Gwot Save Us?," in a loping, pastoral country manner that for all its slowness and elegance is more mysterious than anything else here. The album's final track, "My Insect Life," also showcases her in the company of bass, cello, and drums, and has her singing in a small, twee voice that is all but covered by her overdubbed acoustic and electric guitar playing. But it is very effective as an instrument, faltering its way through the skeletal tune and sending the disc off in a near whisper to excellent effect after a coda following an extended space. Ultimately, this is a step forward. While Legs to Make Us Longer doesn't contain the raw, dynamic immediacy of Everybody Loves You, it substitutes a wealth of diversity, warmth, and textural dimension to more than compensate. King is a major talent, an iconoclastic figure who is this era's only new voice on the acoustic guitar, even as she explores other compelling sonic and musical avenues. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi