A classically trained mezzo-soprano, Canadian-born, Norwegian-based vocalist Caitlin Simpson, aka Kinny, has been compared to everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Erykah Badu since straying into jazz-soul territory in the early 2000s. Under the guidance of production trio Souldrop (who contributed to two tracks on 2009 debut Idle Forest of Chit Chat), her second album, Can't Kill a Dame with Soul, shows why her raw emotive tones and edgy stream-of-consciousness delivery have been mentioned in the same breath as such illustrious company. But this is no Winehouse-alike retro affair. The stripped-back acoustic blues of "Lost Baggage" and a percussive cabaret-style reworking of the Cure's vaudeville classic "The Love Cats" may hark back to a bygone era, but elsewhere, Kinny displays a penchant for laid-back East Coast hip-hop and '90s trip-hop, which perhaps explains why she's recently been invited to work with both De La Soul and Massive Attack. Indeed, the majority of its 11 tracks revel in a sense of claustrophobia that is equally compelling and unsettling, whether it's the attitude-laden "Big Fat Liar," a fusion of massive clomping beats and dub bass wobbles suggesting she's not a woman to be messed with; the Björk-esque percussion and atmospheric strings of "Up/Side/Down"; or the haunting soulful closer, "Mmm of My Hums." There are a few lighter touches, such as opener "Floating Zzzzzzz!," a twinkling slice of acid jazz that combines William Orbit-esque bleeps with Middle Eastern loops, the languid hip-hop soul collaboration with Norwegian MC Son of Light ("Tick Can Tock"), and the Latin-tinged R&B of "One Fan Talking," but Can't Kill a Dame with Soul is always more captivating when it's at its most melancholic. Norway might not exactly be known as a hotbed of soul talent, but Kinny could be the artist to put the country on the map.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien