Katie Dean is a singer/songwriter from Preston, UK, who has only been gigging since August 2008. She's recently finished recording a full-band EP, and below I've reviewed a track-by-track guide.
She'll Be Alone - The word that hits me in the first 20 seconds of this track is 'now'. The vocals remind me of Katy Perry, but when the full band comes in there's a real Taylor Swift country-pop feel which sounds great and very radio-friendly. The second verse is rich with overdubbed vocals and a cool synth riff sitting below the relentless drums and the production sounds great; a lot more professional sounding to what I honestly expected. In what I think is the bridge section, there was a little too much going and I was slightly distracted by the swaying synth sounds in the background, but overall I love the arrangement and think the track is perfectly suited for a young-teenage fanbase and would sit great within a Radio 1 playlist.
Breaking Your Heart - The next track starts similarly with gentle acoustic guitar and vocals; the vocals sound tender yet confident and assure the listener of their place and Dean's right to be where she is right now. The song has another cool pop-groove to it and a memorable if slightly predictable structure. This isn't a criticism though; nobody gains radio airplay unless they stick to what the average music listener expects them to. The track has a great and uplifting feel to it and really shows us what Dean is all about.
My New Story - It's a similar tempo and sound but this is what works for Dean and suits her style. The verses push along hard and I'm confident that an entire album of Dean's current arrangements would settle nicely without any arguments between Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus. Ok, it's not ground-breaking music or breaking any moulds but you have to hand it to Dean; she knows what is current and what is popular and is playing to this. The difference is her age; there aren't many young female singer/songwriters with such professionally sounding tracks that aren't either vocals and acoustic guitar or small band arrangements. Dean's tracks really do sound like something a Major record label might be pushing and that's great. Anyway, back to the song, it's fast and fun and wants you to take notice; the vocal melodies fit perfectly and sound great. I was thinking a short subtle stab of guitar solo over the last part of the last chorus would really be the icing on the cake, and then it came. Simple yet effective; it's exactly what I, as the listener, wanted to hear and I was granted this which can only be good.
Go Find Yourself - The last of Dean's tracks is a little calmer on the intro which works well in her favour, I'm not sure if the track listing on MySpace is the correct order for her EP but I welcomed the break from relentless drums and polished electric guitars. The song feels like less of a single, although for only one out of four tracks to not strike me as a single isn't at all bad! The drums are more interesting in this song and are given a little more freedom and I really like the backing vocals on the choruses. The ending is cool and different, providing both a singalong aspect for live performances and the possibility of rousing a crowd by going back around the chorus with a big snare fill into the full-band arrangement one more time.
I think Katie Dean is one to watch; her songs are impressive and highly polished and I think it's only a matter of time before the name becomes more familiar. Of course you can listen to her tracks for yourself on her MySpace page; she's young, enthusiastic and talented and I really hope this gets her somewhere.