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pardue 1

Hello, Nashville?
Unknown and largely unheard until now, Kasi Pardue makes a good impression on This Is Me

pardueTHIS IS ME
Kasi Pardue
New South Media Group

Outside of family and a few friends who have heard her sing, and the musicians she worked with on this, her first album (or EP—it contains only seven songs), hardly anyone knows, has heard or heard of Kasi Pardue. With a little work on her part, and the requisite luck that is either the residue of design or a matter of fortuitous timing, that could all change, and in a big way. Her sturdy voice and confident delivery summon comparison to the young Patty Loveless, with a slight country twang where the latter’s attack heads for the mountains. For the most part her performances here are believable and affecting; virtually untrained as a vocalist, she has a tendency at times to flatten out emotionally and come off as more rehearsed than personally invested in her stories, but over the course of seven songs those moments are rare. A little experience could change all this, and/or the help of a good vocal coach who can give her more tools to supplement her natural gifts.

Ms. Pardue may not be the only find on This Is Me. Five of the seven tunes are written by one of the acoustic guitarists on the sessions, James Hardie McGehee, who has a pro’s way with a lyric, a hook, a melody and structure, resulting in some good, meaty original material. The abovementioned weakness in Ms. Pardue’s vocalizing is nowhere apparent on the stomping album opener, “That’s What I Like About Love,” a relentlessly upbeat paean to good love that the singer belts with winning authority as she builds to an infectious hook (“hey baby, I’m talkin’ to youuuuu”) before tearing into the verse’s closing line and setting up a stinging guitar solo. The song has a common touch in sentiments most folks can relate to—“holdin’ hands at the picture show/knowin’ he loves me wherever I go/the way he smells when he just got dressed/that’s what I like about love, I guess”—a positive vibe vocally and instrumentally, and exuberant energy, all the stuff of hit singles. Ms. Pardue can do the strong, resilient female thing, too: in the jittery rhythm and forthright rhetorical flourishes of “This Is Me,” she takes her leave from a guy who done her wrong (or maybe snowed her—“Were you just an illusion, was I lost in confusion/when you threw a little love my way/did I blow my lines/was it just a waste of time/did I make another big mistake?”) and vows to accept the consequences of her misjudgment (“haven’t I got the right to be wrong?”) and find her way alone. Her assertive, no-nonsense vocal is right on the money—she sounds, at once, hurt, fed up and energized by the turn of events—and the musicians respond with a fury behind her, especially the lead guitarist, who cuts out on a solo that is positively searing in intensity, a perfect complement to the singer’s bold stance. “Two Hearts in Pieces” is a rootsy, heartbreak ballad (again from McGehee, as were the abovementioned tracks), with a Patsy Cline vibe, meaning it’s equal parts torch song and country lament, with interesting atmospheric textures courtesy Greg Brown’s winsome mandolin lines and some contrasting husky-noted electric guitar solos. There exists a CD of Ms. Pardue doing karaoke versions of Patsy Cline songs, and in this number you can hear in both her coy phrasing and subdued ache how well she’s absorbed the Cline attitude.

pardue 2Elsewhere she does a terrific job probing the roiling emotions of Radney Foster’s “You Can Come Cryin’” (originally recorded by the Sons of the Desert), a guitar-heavy thumper with a soaring chorus promising a safe haven to a heartbroken friend coming to grips with her lover’s betrayals. The album closes with Ms. Pardue’s own “I’m Done,” co-written with Larry Shaw, who was also responsible for the fine production of this project. This kiss-off song comes out of the gate on a foundation of understated hip-hop beats and midtempo rhythms, over which the artist is at her most convincing in modulating her emotions as she describes a litany of grievances against a faithless lover while the music surges and explodes behind her (there’s even a little artsy 20-plus-seconds passage beginning at the 3:24 mark that involves some phasing and, more to the point, an assertion of her independence before she belts out her triumphant chorus and the band responds with appropriate heat of its own).

Kasi Pardue may be a project, but as such she’s pretty far along. She recently turned 20, hails from Vincent, Alabama (near Birmingham, almost a straight diagonal shot from the southwest precincts where, near Mobile, sits the burgh of Leroy, which only two years ago gave us one of country’s most impressive new singer-songwriters, Ashton Shepherd), and is a junior working towards a BNS in nursing at the University of West Alabama, in Livingston. This Is Me was recorded at Larry Shaw’s Media Audio Solutions (MAS) studio ( in Starrett, AL, for his label, New South Media Group. Someone somewhere in a position to do something ought to pay attention, seeing as how Ms. Pardue is an artist with loads of potential, and the focus to make it happen.

Kasi Pardue’s MySpace site

Kasi Pardue’s This Is Me is available directly from the artist. Email:

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
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