12 Dec 2023

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Kay Duncan - Album Review: Interstellar Refugee

23 May 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

On this her debut album, Kay Duncan provides vocals and guitar, and she is joined by her husband Guy Hobson on keyboards and brother-in-law Stephen McDaid on lead guitar. I was initially listening to this while working outside on the farm and it took me a while to work out who her voice often reminded me of, namely Karen Carpenter. Musically this is very different indeed to the heavily layered arrangements of that duo, but there are just times when her voice is very close indeed, such as on numbers like When She’s Weeping. However, she also has a strong country voice, with plenty of depth and passion. 

Kay has obviously developed many of these numbers on acoustic guitar, but Guy is incredibly sensitive in his accompaniment, sometimes providing tinkling guitar which drifts in and out, and others totally changing the attack with different keyboard styles and settings. The same applies to Stephen, who provides sensitive leads when the time is right. This does not feel like a modern album, but rather one which is firmly rooted in the Seventies with some looks back into the Sixties at times, with You Are Not Alone reminiscent of some of the torch songs by Bette Midler, and I was not surprised to realise that this was the lead single off the album as it has real presence and emotion. There are times when it is difficult to realise that this is a debut album, as Kay has a great voice and there is a strong variety of songs which makes this a delight to listen to. I can easily imagine my wife playing this album and enjoying it, and given that our tastes rarely come into conjunction that is some praise on my part. 

The title cut is a science fiction story which tells the story of the last man on earth, and the delicacy the subject is dealt with means we soon become heavily involved. This is a somewhat lighter number, based on picked acoustic and vocals, with just a few orchestral synths for backing. Here Kay sings in a somewhat lower register, bringing forth emotion, and it is these songs where she uses the acoustic where she comes over best, whereas the more electronic Remedy which has a high amount of drum machine, does not work as well. But then she can turn onto an acoustic, blues-based number such as I Love The Day which is basic in the extreme, but full of passion, and she is forgiven. 

This is a really enjoyable album containing multiple styles, but all firmly rooted with great vocals throughout. 

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Kay Duncan

Kay Duncan's songs are soulful, abundant with emotive undercurrents. Honest songs of our days, from a life lived, articulating depth & connecting to the listener on many levels. Lyrics are narrative, poetic & sometimes unconventional. Themes of love, life, loss, longing & environment, are poignant & trace memories of the past, resonate with the present and carry within them messages for the future.

With a rich and sensual alto voice that has been likened to a blend of Joni Mitchell and Karen Carpenter, Kay delivers her songs with warmth and passion.

Originally from the Naval port Island city of Portsmouth in England, she immigrated to Christchurch in the early 1980’s.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Kay Duncan


Interstellar Refugee
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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