Summary

Branching away from standards on her second album Way Down Low, Austin-based jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson also expands her musical worldview, going beyond the sophisticated cabaret of her 2009 debut Take to the Sky and creating a breezy neo-tribute to the swinging '60s. That was the decade that produced Brian Wilson's "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," one of the few covers on Way Down Low and a sentiment that applies to Edmonson but in a different way. Where the Beach Boy was pining for the days before rock & roll, Edmonson would certainly feel more comfortable in either the '60s or '50s, where bossa nova, swing, and pop mingled happily, as they do here. Certainly, these sounds give Way Down Low a distinctly retro vibe, but Edmonson isn't living in the past, she's pledging allegiance to a tradition, a tradition she finds flexible enough to refashion for modern times. And Kat Edmonson is a modern girl -- after all, she funded the production of Way Down Low via Kickstarter, a move that gave her artistic freedom and professional production, taking full advantage of those two elements. Way Down Low is rich and varied, as are Edmonson's girlish vocals, which never succumb to cloying sweetness or stereotypical scatting. She's nimble and creative within the boundaries of her chosen traditions, which is why Way Down Low feels simultaneously fresh and timeless. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine