Debuting her second studio album is 24 year-old British singer-songwriter Katy B – real name Kathleen Brien. Taking three years between the release of her debut album On a Mission  and this year’s Little Red, the BRIT School graduate is showing a more matured sound this time around.
The red-haired artist wasn’t totally away during those three years; in 2012 she released an EP titled Danger where she collaborated with artists like Iggy Azalea, Diplo and Wiley and in July 2013, she releasing “What Love Is Made Of” although the single didn’t make the cut onto Little Red. Enlisting help from Rinse FM’s Gordon “Geeneus” Williams who co-wrote most of the tracks with Katy B on On A Mission, the duo don’t disappoint in penning more memorable dance tunes again. On the House-Pop/Dub-step production Little Red, Katy takes a more personal approach as we hear the songs center around a common theme of love.
Little Red’s opening track “Next Thing” picks up from where Katy B left off on 2011’s On A Mission, with the Invisible Men produced dance tune delving right into a 90’s house track that’s sure to get you moving. “5AM”, the official lead single released in November 2013 follows suit. Similarly, Brien delivers another dance floor cut this time singing about yearning to be in love – “I need some loving like valium” – like a drug she’s addicted to. The fist-pumping “5AM” did quite well on the UK charts debuting at #5.
On “Aaliyah”, Katy B and fellow British songstress Jessie Ware aren’t referring to the late R&B singer, but as an ode to another female they could possibly be jealous of. It’s all in the lyrics as they sing “Aaliyah please this is green envy / why must you taunt me girl”. It’s almost hard to tell which lines are sung by Brien or by Ware but we can easily see why this Geeneus produced Electro-Pop track with vibrant synths – which was first released on the Danger EP – makes an appearance on Little Red, it’s a hell of a record.
The second single off the album, “Crying For No Reason” steers away from the albums clear club hits, with the track showcasing Katy’s vocals on the synth-clad instrumental that builds up from minimal grand pianos to percussion arrangements to a triumphant closing milieu. Brien switches from yearning for love to being the one who has done wrong to the other as she sings “Forgive me now because I said I’d be there for you / care for you / I let you down”. Co-written by Guy Chambers and depicting a sad story, I would have liked the track to take on a more acoustic or minimalist ballad approach, but notwithstanding “Crying For No Reason” remains one of the masterpieces on the album.
Katy B returns back to her beloved House music on “I Like You” before taking a turn on the Electro-Pop songs “All My Lovin” and “Tumbling Down”. “Everything”, co-written with Rowan Jones and produced by Dream, is also one of the gems on Little Red, with its catchy lyrics, infectious melody and dancefloor-ready backdrop. The next few songs however take a laid-back approach slowing the album down for its final third. On “Play”, Katy’s voice matches up well against Sampha who features on the Jazzy tune and “Sapphire Blue”, which is nicely tucked away at the near end is that one song different from all the others on the album. Produced by Jacques Greene, Brien again sings of being in love; this time unaware of everything around and just being engrossed in love. The track starts off with a simple pulsating beat to which Brien sings over, before the synthesizers kick in, meshing with the vocal display, to develop an enchanting rhythmic melodic tune.
Little Red is somewhat similar to her first offering On a Mission, but this time Katy B steers away from the club hits for long enough to talk openly about being in love and hurting from love. Katy stuck with her winning formula by working with Geeneus and overall, Little Red serves its purpose. It’s filled with a plethora of Pop dance-floor hits that we rightly expect from Katy B.
Granted, some songs on the album aren’t as memorable as others, however there is hardly one song on Little Red that you wouldn’t appreciate. Katy B manages to put out a wholesome and carefully crafted album vocally and instrumentally with tracks mentioned above and other notables not mentioned such as “Emotions” with its beautifully orchestrated symphonies. Three years was a lot to wait between releases but with the quality of work on Little Red, we sure aren’t mad at Katy B for making us wait this long.
Purchase: Katy B – Little Red (iTunes)