New York-based singer-songwriter Katy Kirby releases her sophomore album, Blue Raspberry, a brilliant exploration of queer love and the theatricality of human connection.
Katy Kirby's Blue Raspberry kicks off with a provocative premise: there's no such thing as "real life." Instead, Kirby contends, life is an amalgamation of experiences and the intricate negotiations we undertake to share them with others. Blue Raspberry becomes the lens through which she examines the glittering facade of intimacy – from smiles sparked with an electric buzz to the synthetic rose scent carefully curated for a special someone.
Hailing from Spicewood, Texas, Kirby found herself in Nashville when she birthed the title track, "Blue Raspberry," the genesis of the album's narrative. The song, as she puts it, is the oldest on the record, conceived in the midst of her realization, "I think I'm queer." Kirby's introspective dive into the tradition of yearning in country love songs takes center stage, as she contemplates the essence of her attraction to a woman she can only pine for.
The title itself is a nod to the unconventional – an ode to loving someone for their morning choices, embracing the tackiness society often shuns. Kirby's lyrical finesse unveils the beauty in the artificial, a theme that becomes the beating heart of the album which follows Kirby's well-received debut, Cool Dry Place, released in February 2021. While her first album marked the discovery of her artistic voice, the sophomore effort is a polished and confident foray into deeper questions surrounding human connection. Kirby navigates the hazardous zones where relationships can cave in, offering listeners a richer, more nuanced experience.
The realization that her romantic interest in women transcended mere songwriting exercises propelled Kirby into a dedicated songwriting spree. Writing in her van, immediately after performances on the 2021 tour with Waxahatchee, Kirby shed inhibitions. She embraced the ornate, infusing intricate chord progressions and melodies into her work, resulting in a musical tapestry that goes far beyond the boundaries of convention.
To accentuate Blue Raspberry's lyrical themes, Kirby collaborated with her band to craft a lush sound, enriched by orchestral gestures arranged by friend Rowen Merrill. Drawing inspiration from acclaimed albums like Andy Shauf's The Party and Lomelda's Hannah, the album exudes a gorgeous yet spacious musicality. From the gentle ballad "Salt Crystal" to the heart-wrenching "Alexandria," each track captures the essence of Kirby's journey in vivid hues.
At its core, Blue Raspberry invites listeners to shiver in the realization that the key to the treasure might just be the treasure itself, in all its imperfect, fleeting glory. In a world where the artificial and the authentic dance, Katy Kirby's musical masterpiece emerges as a celebration of love, in all its dazzling forms.