The breakthrough for me came with her final release as Mama Kaz, the excellent ‘Lipstick & Cocaine’ E.P. which I had the pleasure to review here back in December 2012. Acclaim for this release was not confined to these pages but countrywide and beyond, and it was no surprise that Kaz re-evaluated her career very shortly afterwards, culminating in the stage name change and the disbandment of her beloved Mama Kaz Band. A painful and brave decision it was, but ‘Get Ready!’ has confirmed the choice was the right one. Kaz Hawkins is the future and the future is bright, if ‘Get Ready!’ is anything to go by.
As a vehicle for her remarkable voice, ‘Get Ready’ is just about perfect – showing how effortlessly she can handle Blues (‘Shake’, ‘Drink With The Devil’), Rhythm & Blues (‘Believe With Me’), Jazz (‘Hallelujah Happy People’), Country (‘Get Ready’) as well as contemporary Pop music (‘Coz You’ and ‘Walking On My Own’). I say ‘effortlessly’ because, like all really talented people, Kaz makes singing seem so easy you can almost take it for granted. On closer inspection however, you can hear that Kaz has put 110% effort into her performance on this record, taking her voice to the limit on several occasions including hitting some really high notes which is not her stock-in-trade being the bluesy singer she is. That takes guts and belief. So, in terms of her performance on the album, she gets full marks. But what about beyond that? Does Kaz Hawkins the writer match Kaz Hawkins the singer?
This is slightly harder to judge. I say that because the album features quite a wide range of musical styles, which I know reflect her own tastes, but also makes the overall effect of the album a little bit jumpy. Taken in isolation Kaz shows a high level of proficiency as a writer, but for me the more traditional blues-y songs impress the least, not through any fault on the writer’s part, just because it is very hard to make a Blues song sound fresh and original, no matter how pleasing to the ear. In terms of how the record sounds, again the more traditional sounding songs such as ‘Shake’ or ‘Can’t Afford Me’ sound a tad basic musically, compared to the more highly produced contemporary-sounding tracks like the impressive ‘Walking On My Own’. As a counterpoint to that however, the simple-yet-poignant ‘I Saw a Man’ and soulful ‘Believe With Me’show that Kaz can certainly find a place that is uniquely hers within a familiar musical framework. That bodes very well for the future.
As Kaz says in ‘Believe With Me’, ‘I planted a seed, way down deep in my soul….it’s called belief’ and that seed has grown and the fruits of that tree of belief are the 10 tracks on this excellent album. If I may seem critical of the musical breadth that is covered across those 10 tracks, what I will say is that it certainly means there is something on here for most tastes, not just the more mature audience she is used to. But I do feel that Kaz has shown with ‘Walking On My Own’ that she has the pipes and the writing prowess to rub shoulders with the likes of Adele in terms of contemporary music and I hope she maintains her belief that she can hold her own in that company.
◀ STANDOUT ⁞ Walking On My Own ▶
◀ SOUNDS LIKE ⁞ Adele, Janis Joplin ▶