Katie Kim – Hour Of The Ox
It has been a long six-year wait since Katie Kim released the spectral and supreme Salt, a Choice-nominated contender for Irish album of the year. It’s perhaps trite to say we live in a very different (post-Brexit, Trump, and pandemic) world since that 2016 release, but that also doesn’t make it any less true. The Waterford native has thankfully picked up where she left off, albeit with a few new tools added to her musical belt.
Her latest, Hour Of The Ox, is yet another stirring record dripping with atmosphere but this time there’s a haunting, deft maximalism present; something she may have gleaned from her time with The Waterboys and Lankum. At its best, Hour Of The Ox mines euphoric release out of expansive folk and intense, grimy electronics. Forceful dirge Feeding On The Metals finds Sullivan channelling Billie Eilish in something that sounds like it shouldn’t work but absolutely does.
The gorgeous Golden Circle initially recalls the unnerving film score work of Mica Levi, before morphing an unsettling (possible) cortina-sound into a looping, luscious serenade powered by Sullivan’s commanding vocals. Not everything lands with the same impact. Gentle Bird is perhaps too apt a description of a pleasant song that doesn’t quite justify its seven-minute runtime. All is forgiven, however, by the standout conclusion Really Far. Prefacing the album, Katie Sullivan revealed it will be her last under the Katie Kim moniker. It’s a bittersweet announcement for an artist who maybe never got the due she deserved as a solo musician. At least we got this fitting, sumptuous, swansong.
Words: Mark Conroy
Read our interview with Katie Kim here