Kat Perkins – Fearless
The wave of music talent shows washing over the music industry since 2000 have changed the music industry, but produced few lasting talents. Many, if not all, capitalize on any appreciable success with an album release, endorsement deals, or live appearances, but few have managed to parlay television success into durable, full-time entertainment careers. The release of Kat Perkins’ first EP, Fearless, poises her for a different result. The difference is talent. While this stunningly beautiful and self-possessed woman certainly satisfies the public’s cosmetic requirements, Perkins goes far beyond the facile with a gorgeous voice and considerable songwriting skills.
Those songwriting skills are in full view on the opener and title song. “Fearless”. The song’s layered build pulses with steadily mounting emotional tension and Perkins’ voice remains responsive to the music’s rise. The addition of strings over the top of strong percussion from both Perkins’ piano work and the drumming really succeeds in bringing the song to an entirely unexpected level. It moves like a mini-symphony and Perkins proves herself capable of working strength against strength with the band’s performance. “Paris” purports to be a top shelf rock number, but a lot of the backing track smacks of paint by numbers pop rock. The distinguishing aspect of this performance is Perkins’ vocal that digs deep to pull something genuine out of the high volume clatter around her.
Perkins gives fans a solid cover of Heart’s rocker “Barracuda”. It’s ironic that a song once critically derided as a pale copy of Led Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand” gets cover versions from performers rarely deviating a note from the original. Perkins joins their ranks. Her vocal has all of the necessary bells and whistles while also possessing more than enough range to satisfy the song’s vocal demands, but lacks the original’s edge of anger. “Good Girl” finds Perkins back on personal ground instead of covering another artist’s song. It’s a rugged, unrelenting rocker with a sharp guitar riff that immediately grabs listeners by the throat. It has a real pop sensibility that never dilutes its aggressive approach.
Fearless is welcome medicine to fight the plague of sponsored mannequins produced from pop idol shows. Perkins sets herself apart with her talents and honesty – there’s little here that’s outright calculated or otherwise manufactured. Instead, her efforts aimed at mainstream success aren’t gaudy and the more personal efforts give the release real gravitas.