Kat Perkins – Fearless
North Dakota native Kat Perkins has a public performing career reaching back nearly two decades, a stint fronting the successful and now defunct Minneapolis based rock band Scarlett Haze, and time performing for soldiers stationed in the Middle East. Widespread fame found her with a season six appearance on NBC Television’s singing competition The Voice and, while she did not win in the end, her semifinal placing has provided her with her best springboard yet in establishing a lasting musical career on the national stage. The next step in that march towards success is her debut EP, Fearless. This polished and clearly throughout release is aimed at a broad-based market and tailored to appeal to both younger audiences and music devotees in their twenties and early thirties. She has considerable pop chops, but there’s little question that Perkins is a rocker at heart and her voice conveys palpable attitude through each of the EP’s five songs.
The title cut starts things off marvelously. The quasi-classical orchestrations in the song generate considerable tension and musicians are thankfully content to let the song free range to develop. Perkins’ vocal does an awesome job of matching the music note for note and its emotive edge strikes an unique contrast against the musical sheen. It’s easily the EP’s greatest moment and its lyric, dealing with the wide range of emotions Perkins experienced in deciding to give her musical career another chance, has simple, startling clarity. “Paris” shares similar clarity and marks her first effort in a distinctly rock vein. The wild profile she tries striking here doesn’t quite work because Perkins seems unable to embody the lyrics with the necessary conviction. It creates a curiously half-hearted, but not entirely un-enjoyable, performance.
She serves up a respectful and respectable cover of the Heart chestnut “Barracuda”. It’s an ideal fit for her range, but there’s perhaps a bit of emotional distance for Perkins here that deprives her vocal of the same urgency you hear in the original. The band knocks it out of the park, however, and their rollicking take on the classic even begins with one of rock and roll’s classic hooks – the drummer counting the song in. It’s quite a likeable moment. Likeable moments abound in “Good Girl”, a hard-charging rocker with almost punk energy. The clenched fist aggression is cut short only by some distinctly pop touches that come later in the song.
Fearless has an assertive statement-like quality to it that is hard to resist. It’s clearly Perkins announcing to the world that she is back, here’s what she can do, and here’s what you likely be hearing more of in the future. Every track finds its mark, but some impacts are flush on the listener’s chin while others strike more glancing blows.