Hearing Aide: Katie Louise ‘Unleash’

When I first interviewed Katie Louise, it was hard to wrap my brain around her talent. A classically trained pianist who is now trying to break into the pop scene? How is that even possible?

Well, she proved it’s possible. She’s even proved it’s not only a formidable attempt, it’s a smash hit.

The seven song EP, Unleash, released March 15. Louise and her team kicked off the new album with a show at Jupiter Hall.

Before I heard the full EP, I spoke with Louise. I had listened to two songs before the interview. Even then, I knew she was onto something special. The sultry “Imprisoned in Paradise” is slow, but poignant and powerful. I could feel her emotion throughout the song, and could identify with her rhetorical opener (Why would I want to sit all day and stare at only black and white?). Louise’s ability to speak about how she can see things and feel things, that those around her do not understand, is phenomenal. I felt her pain. “Imprisoned in Paradise” is truly one of my favorites on the EP, which is hard to believe because I’m a die-hard rock ‘n’ roll, go as fast as you can music fan.

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Another true highlight is “Broken,” which Louise told me was one of the first songs she wrote. Another sultry, breathy ballad, Louise is able to use language as a medium to communicate the pain and sorrow the song is based on. A gentle piano melody supports her gentle, but strong voice: “I need you to hear me before we’re fighting because I don’t want to lose you / but I can’t do this without you / I need you to love me when I’m not broken.

This is by far the strongest lyric in the song written by Louise, with her vocals bringing you to the scene of her pain, with a front row seat to watch it all unfold. I felt this lyric; I was able to relate my own emotional journey and feel the exact same pain. As the song picks up, the song becomes a little faster and is complimented with a drum beat that brings the element of pop into the forefront.

Louise talked about how this EP was a work of “baggage,” as she used some of the harder parts of her childhood and earlier life as a vehicle for her songwriting. Each song demonstrates a different part of her journey, with “Damn Good” bringing a danceable beat and feel-good lyrics (I ain’t gonna lie/ life is pretty damn good/ and I’m sure as hell proud of it) to an album of raw pain and redemption. The guitar solo also gives rock listeners, like myself, something to latch onto, making sure almost any listener has something they like within the brief EP.

Louise’s piano skills are not lost in this album. The solo in “Unleash” gives you just a taste of what she is capable of. I truly felt an old soul in this solo, as if I’ve heard this a million times, yet not heard it at all. Louise uses her impressive talent to introduce you to the world of piano in a way you might have never seen it before. As she’s clearly demonstrated, piano doesn’t have to be classical; it can be the melody and co-star of a modern pop album.

If I had to pick only one song from this album, it would be “You Can’t Talk To A Woman Like That.” A female empowerment anthem about what women want in a relationship and the bouncy beat will have you singing along with your sunglasses on, and windows down, as you drive home. The lyrics will have you singing for days (trust me, I sang it on loop for almost a week), while subconsciously thinking about what a woman should, or should not, demand in her life. The lyrics (You call it feminist/ I call it common sense/ and maybe baby you should get some of it) gives the listener an insight of the woman Louise is; you understand she’s here to fight for the respect, platform and place she rightfully deserves in the music industry, and for that matter, life in general.

Overall, Katie Louise has made a formidable splash into the scene with her first EP. I’m already a huge fan.

This article was originally published by The Spot 518, is property of Spotlight Newspapers in Albany, N.Y., and appears as a special to NYSMusic. TheSpot518 and NYSMusic work in partnership to provide readers with in-depth coverage on the local music scene in the Capital District and New York state, respectively. For more, visit TheSpot518.com