(28 August 2011) Now based in Mercer Island, Washington, singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist Kate Borkowski is originally from South Bend, Indiana. Her family helped cultivate an intense love of words within Kate. It is difficult to miss Borkowski's literary roots, and the fruits of her own Notre Dame bachelor's degree in English, as she sculpts her songs, with precision, weaving trance-inducing and almost eerie vocal melodic play with lyrics that are as likely to invoke vodka as they are to jaunt playfully between rarely used terms in a literature book.
Kate was taught never use a big word where a small word would do just fine. However, when translating the complexities of her inner self, however, she often finds a small word just won't do. Perhaps that's why she has resonated with Paul Simon and, more recently, with Tori Amos. In contrast to her 2005 more folk-influenced Seeing In The Dark album, her Vodka Honey EP and forthcoming full length Beautiful Little Fools CD evoke clear Tori Amos images. Borkowski has said of Amos that she has been a needed reminder that there is a place for the intellectual woman who writes edgy, abstract, and allusion-filled songs within an industry inundated by cliches and demure women.
Vodka Honey EP. Kate's six-track iTunes EP is comprised of four versions of "In My Stoli" and two additional tracks. The studio version of the track reveals Kate's significant artistic development in the run up to her first full length release. Influence from the supporting artists and production staff clearly have derived the Tori Amos influence that her work now takes on. Listen for the incredible string work accompanying the singer. In sharp contrast, the three remixes--including the EP's vastly extended "Vodka Mix"--are clearly dance oriented configurations that add significant diversity to the EP. The slightly shorter "Dirty Mix" is crisper, gentler and is likely more accessible, exposing Kate's vocals more. The shortest of the lot is the "Alchemy Remix" and is most akin to the studio version. The keyboard washes and richer arrangements are only slightly intermingled with more typical remix adjustments. Listen carefully for the vocal treatment and deep bass chords in this one.
Kate thoughtfully included two remixes of tracks from her forthcoming album Beautiful Little Fools. The "Dutch Remix" of "Worker Bees" is a downtempo track, Kate's lead and backing vocals gliding above crisp percussion and delicate arrangements. The producers' vocal arrangement of the layers is completely stunning. The "In-n-Out" remix of "Beautiful Little Fools" features yet another lush vocal treatment of the artist's work, this time accompanied by rich guitar, string and of course piano work. The ever present rhythm section has been perfectly integrated. Raunchy electric guitar joins in the track's powerful crescendo. Bravo!
Beautiful Little Fools. Kate Borkowski's forthcoming twelve-track 54-minute long album is a diverse musical collection, including several Tori Amos-inspired material. However, listeners will clearly hear Kate's own vibe unfold as the album develops, specifically in the singing, songwriting and arrangements. The project was recorded and engineered at Garey Shelton Productions in Seattle. Yet Kate drew on Tori Amos and Paul Simon artists to achieve the desired result. Although the polished result is complete at this stage, no release date has been set.
Additional recording and mixing was done by Marcel van Limbeek (Tori Amos). Kate teamed up with Marcel in early 2010 and the dynamic and creative twosome spent most of the year recording additional vocals, cello, and Bosendorfer piano parts between London and Martian Engineering in Cornwall, England. And other Tori Amos artists contributed to the project: Mac Aladdin, John Philip Shenale and Rosemary Banks.
Further contributors to the project were: Ben Smith (Heart); Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple); and Garey Shelton (Tingstad and Rumbel). Beautiful Little Fools was mastered by the legendary Greg Calbi (Paul Simon) at Sterling Sound in New York and is currently being shopped around with release planned before the end of 2011.
In the first single from the album, "Siamroot" (which is an anagram of Amos' name) the cyclical nature of a volatile relationship and an almost Absinthian retreat from life into the landscape of Amos' songs. Borkowski dedicates "Siamroot" to Amos, a stunning effort in its own right, and no small gift to offer the very woman who has proven so inspiring. A certain album standout, we especially liked the track's robust guitar work and the huge tempo change halfway.
The twelve-track album continues with "Lot's Shoulder," an extremely gentle and bluesy guitar-laden ballad. Here Kate's now characteristic vocal work finds itself amidst some almost-country style arrangements. The arrangements contrast in "The Finest Diner," a downtempo and heartfelt ballad, but this time accompanied by piano. Emotion pours from Kate's soul in the vocal delivery.
The thicker instrumental arrangements in "Whore of an Oracle" are balanced by Kate's lead vocal delivery while her powerful vocalise provides additional texture to the arrangement. The rock-textured electric guitar contributes great diversity to the album's overall sound. The sound of the more accessible "Ice Cream and Snickers" combines rhythmic bass, electric guitar with a rock arrangement that backs Kate's again-powerful vocal delivery. Vocal production on "Volcano Daughter" is incredible. Layers of Kate's vocals perfectly back her voice alongside the rhythmic and lightly rocking guitar-laced arrangement.
Listeners will clearly admire the superb solo a capella singing of Kate's track "Boys That Park." And again in stark contrast, piano and percussion join Kate in the standout "Company Man." Listen for the harmony vocal part that perfectly joins Kate's lead in this album standout. Producers further turn up the reverb in "The First Nickel" which serves to deepen Kate's evocaltive delivery of the lyrical passages alongside crisp acoustic guitar and rhythm parts. We especially admire the contrasting vocal harmony to Kate's stunning lead.
Crisp acoustic guitar and percussion provide the foundation for the gorgeous ballad "Paris" (with emphasis on the French pronunciation of the title). While the album has some Tori Amos influences, Kate's own vibe clearly emergest with her signature backing harmonies and percussive textures.
The album concludes with its stunning piano- and guitar-laced title track. Kate's powerful vocal delivery against the electric guitar works well without any additional layering, although backing harmonies add a stunning texture to the final result. Listen for the singer's soaring backing parts in the song's powerful crescendo. The producers and artists contributing to this project have done an oustanding job. We expect Kate's new full length album to draw significant interest from female vocals enthusiasts worldwide. Incredible!