Katie Herzig – The Waking Sleep
Perfect if you like your pop perky.
This is Katie’s fourth studio album, and on the way to making it she has become the darling of the American TV drama, penning songs featured on One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy and Smallville, among others. And if that puts a certain type of sound in your head, then that’s what to expect from The Waking Sleep.
The first half is peppy, relentlessly so, with the first track Free My Mind being the most radio-friendly and bouncy of the lot. The album mercifully mellows into some more languishing and reflective tracks which are easier to swallow. Katie has endeavoured to fuse electronic beats and samples with contradictory “organic” orchestral arrangements throughout. While it is not altogether unsuccessful, there are points where the songs would be more appealing if stripped back, without the baroque-feel string arrangements and skittering, cantering rhythms. Tracks like Wasting Time and Oh My Darlin’ make me want to hear her perform them on her own on a small stage with just a guitar – they’re not bad songs, just somewhat caffeinated.
By far the most honest and emotive track is Closest I Get, where Katie finally demands the listener to pay attention with a more sensitive vocal style. There is a relaxed waltzing rhythm reflecting the nocturnal musings of the lyrics, and a gentle build from a lovely cello and singing solo violin. The title track is also more relaxed, an exercise in tension building, with a long, drawn out melody and ambient feel.
There’s a playful country influence threading through the album, reflecting Katie’s native Colorado and Nashville background. Lost and Found has a definite echo of anthemic, ostinato-based U2 or Coldplay style. Yet Katie does have her own sound and this is a well-crafted, ambitious album, but perhaps it feels over-crafted with a sense that a more rootsy, truthful sound could emerge.
Listen to Free My Mind here: