It’s been almost three years since the first time I saw K. Flay perform. I had no idea who she was, opening a night at Northern Illinois University’s basketball stadium where Passion Pit was headlining. She is a one-person band-singing, rapping, making beats-and she does them all well. I walked away from that show far more impressed with her set than I was with Passion Pit’s. The same goes for their careers since that night.
K. Flay seems to be constantly on the grind, touring and releasing singles and EP’s like a modern day Proust. Every song isn’t a masterpiece, but there’s a lot more good than bad. Her new record, West Ghost, is very heavy on the good. It’s nine songs make it the longest release she’s put out since 2009’s MASHed Potatoes. This new record is far and away the most mature and polished work she’s done so far, and her growth as an artist is admirable.
The title track features soul singer Allen Stone and some funky guitar work. It marks a departure for her to a certain degree because it sticks to her bedroom-confessional style lyrics, but it feels like it was made to be danced to rather than dissected. The heavy bass line just keeps your body moving too much to really pay attention to the words.
The best performances come on “Fvcking Crazy.” LA rapper Eligh (Living Legends) and Chicago-born Grieves (Rhymesayers) each deliver a verse over a haunting synth and drum beat. The three rappers have a good flow together, with similar phrasing and lyrical acumen.
It’s been interesting to followK. Flay’s career from the time I became aware of her work. She definitely has the drive and talent to be as big as she wants to be, given the right opportunity. West Ghost is a great leap forward in that it feels like a cohesive album instead of a collection of songs. If you aren’t into rap music or electronic-type things, I would still recommend at least giving this a spin. It’s free to download from her website, and if you like it all of her other releases are also there for free.
As an added bonus, here’s an interview I did with K. Flay at SXSW 2011 (I hadn’t slept the night before if my questions seem a bit rambling):