Kate Walsh is a true individual. A girl who wants to do things her way and generally does. She has enviable qualities as a singer with a rare and delicate timbre to her voice, an engaging songwriter, and not least an accomplished guitarist and pianist. Walsh had only just celebrated her 20th birthday when her debut album, Clocktower Park, came out in 2003 on the independent UK label Kitchenware, home to the likes of Prefab Sprout and Editors. The singer then achieved a certain degree of fame after her self-published and promoted follow-up record, Tims House, topped the UK iTunes album chart in March 2007.
This success sparked a bout of media frenzy that resulted in major labels forming a disorderly queue for her signature. Universal barged their way to the front, and Kate Walsh duly found herself on Mercury Records with a budget to make her third album. Sticking to her principles, Walsh retained the services of local Tims House producer Tim Bidwell, and Light And Dark was duly delivered in August 2009. By this time, Mercury had decided that their promo budget would be better spent on Pixie Lott, and Walsh was back on her own label. This potted history takes us to 2010, and Kate Walsh has just delivered a fourth album, Peppermint Radio. Yet once again there is a twist. Rather than a selection of Walshs own delightful songs, the collection is a bold set of covers.
Consequence of Sound meets up with Kate Walsh as she is getting ready to spend a first Christmas in her new home in her adopted town of Brighton, on the English south coast. The singer is dressed for the British winter but confesses that her boots let in water as we hit a sudden downpour while heading for lunch at the homely Bills Café. The eatery is a bit like being in Kates kitchen but on a bigger scale, and so a perfect place to share some home truths. A look back on 2010 seems to be a good starting point.
Yes its been a busy touring year. Ive supported Paolo Nutini, Turin Brakes, Mark Knopfler and have just finished my own headline tour, Walsh muses, dropping the names in a matter-of-fact fashion. The singer confesses to being more comfortable in small, intimate venues but recognizes the experience gained from playing on a big stage. We had 17,000 people at Nimes (Arena in France) for Marks gig. Amazing, but way too big for me. Theres no sense of relationship with the audience. In contrast, six nights at Londons Royal Albert Hall with the ex-Dire Straits man and a mere 5,000 people a night worked for her. Ah, the Albert Hall was magical. You cant see anyone from the stage, but you sense the atmosphere all around you. Its like standing on the edge of a cliff in the middle of the night, knowing the sea is below though you cant see it.