What with its soothing electronic instrumentation and ethereal vocals, Crocodile, the new album from I Am Snow Angel (real name: Julie Kathryn), is obviously trying to be dreamlike. It’s a genuine shame then that despite boasting two very strong tracks, Crocodile feels more like a brief, uneventful nap than a dream filled night of sleep.
The good stuff first: title track Crocodile is a great song. Engaging and hypnotic, its intoxicating melodies really work, and the track manages to be charming without ever being one-note or boring. It has an edge of unpredictability to it; it would be wrong to call the song dark, but it does have just a pinch of grit. Similarly, Night Time manages to capture a feeling of genuine mystery, and Kathryn’s impressive vocal delivery perfectly matches the music that swells and builds around her. Both songs give a real glimpse of Kathryn’s talents: on a good day, it’s obvious she can nail a sense of what I can only describe as ‘otherworldly whimsy’ with real panache.
Sadly, however a lot of Crocodile’s other tracks miss the mark. Falling In Love, a duet with John Carlson, is let down by a mundane backing track, and lacks any real spark between the singers. “You lit the fire that was out of control” goes the chorus, but there are no flames of passion anywhere to be seen on this cold, underwhelming song.
Similarly, Turquoise Blue is a toothless, painfully mediocre number. Although Kathryn’s vocals are strong, the track tries too hard to ape the swishy romance of electro pop artists who have come before, without ever capturing any of those artists’ genuine originality.
Walking On Wires and Come With Me both fall victim to crushing mediocrity: there are no risks being taken here, and whatever emotions might have inspired the tunes have obviously disappeared by the time Kathryn made it into a studio.
Fallen Angel, although it boasts the album’s most interesting lyrical content, is musically trite, and despite a promising start Fantasy Fiction succumbs to oversimplification. By the time the misjudged – and frankly bizarre – Bruce Springsteen cover, I’m On Fire, has closed out the album, the overall feeling one is left with is disappointment. After all, Kathryn is an artist with some obvious and impressive skills, so it’s a real shame to see her waste them with what amounts to little more than overproduced elevator music.
Part of me knows I’m only being harsh on Kathryn because it’s so obvious she can do better. You’ve got to be cruel to be kind, after all. So let me end with this: despite Crocodile’s many flaws, Julie Kathryn is not a musician you should dismiss. She’s got a great album in her somewhere. This just isn’t it.