KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall

Way out in the desert, KT Tunstall found herself.

There she was, in cactus-country, Arizona, far from the adoptive London scene that provided the backdrop to four albums, 4 million sales, one Ivor Novello and one Brit Award, and further still from the Scottish folk heartland that had nurtured her. She was working with Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb; maverick, desert punk spirit, a storied musician and producer. In Tucson's Wavelab Studios, the pair were recording a set of songs that had bloomed into life, almost without Tunstall knowing it, and that foreshadowed two momentous events that would make summer 2012 a turning point in the 37-year-old singer/songwriter's life.

"I'd always had this yearning to crack open my ribcage and be able to let everything out," she reflects. She had attempted it through her personal journal writing, but had never had the confidence -- the unselfconsciousness -- to do it in song. "And then last year led to it all happening without even trying anymore," says Tunstall. She's referring to the death of her dad last August, then, the following month, her split from her musician husband. "But you know, the first half of the record was written before any of that happened, so there is a kind of weird savant quality to it."

The result: an album of two halves, both temporally and physically. "Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon" straddles either end of 2012, the year KT Tunstall's world was rocked from its axis before settling on a new emotional orientation. Each was recorded in Arizona, and both are swaddled with atmosphere, poignancy and, yes, hurt -- but, also, hope. One, oddly, prefigures the losses that were to come; the other, beautifully, captures a new, reinvigorated state of being in the aftermath. Together, they combine to create the album of Kate Victoria Tunstall's life.

Brian Lopez

It's not enough to say of Tucson's Brian Lopez that he is a young man of drive, discipline and vision, laudable as those qualities are, and how essential they are to success in almost every endeavor. Couple his estimable attributes with an artists sensibility and you really have something special, something to count on for the long haul. Brian Lopez is an artist, and with his album Ultra he has begun the real work of going inside himself to find out what he has to say to the world. And lo, it is good.

Brian grew up in a typical American home. Parents married young, had several children and Brian was raised with more of an athletic upbringing than a musical one. Competition shaped Brian and gave him a "drive to win...to compete and excel".

As a child he was an aficionado of The Beatles. Learning to play their songs on a "crappy Fender Squier" Brian quickly started a band and became "one of the cool kids" because he could play any song requested. He played in several bands not worth naming, put himself through college on a classical performance guitar scholarship and graduated with a BA in Music. And while he could play with the jazz cats and jam with the classical guitar guys, his heart always loved rock n roll.

Ultra is the product of Brian Lopez's rock n roll heart. Yes, there are the Spanish language songs, and as all the best foreign language songs do, these transcend language barriers and move the spirit with the force of their feeling. But there is more, much more to behold on Ultra, and this reveals Lopez to be very much a product of his times, speaking to his times. There is also that underlying element of desert; listening to Ultra there is almost a palpable heat and wind.

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