Words Came Back to Me
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2006, Volume 13, #3
Written by John Metzger
By the end of 2006, Sonya Kitchell very well may be a household name. After all, America has an unstoppable obsession with elevating young talent, and therefore, it isnít surprising that her tender age of 16 is being leveraged quite heavily in marketing her debut Words Came Back to Me. Most adolescent artists, of course, are thrust onto center stage regardless of merit, and after making a major splash, the tendency is for them to wander aimlessly (and embarrassingly) for a few years before fading from view. Kitchell, on the other hand, appears to be primed for a long-term residence in the limelight, and while the term wunderkind is bandied about far too frequently, in her case it isnít all that far off the mark. Make no mistake: her stylistic approach ó which essentially is an intimate fusion of folk, blues, jazz, and pop ó isnít terribly unique. Although she often has been compared to Norah Jones ó an analogy that likely will grow stronger, considering that Starbucks has opted to distribute Words Came Back to Me via its highly successful Hear Music campaign ó the resemblance is marginally superficial, at best. Throughout the endeavor, Kitchellís influences bubble just beneath the surface of her material, and hints of Simon & Garfunkel (Train), Van Morrison (Let Me Go), Joni Mitchell (Think of You), and Natalie Merchant (Jerry) intriguingly collide with her swarthy alto, which, much like Joss Stoneís, is reminiscent of the legends of old-school soul. Itís the maturity of her compositions combined with the emotional resonance of her delivery, however, that set her apart from her peers, and as long as she doesnít permit early success to stifle her growth, Kitchell certainly has the wherewithal to be making music for many years to come.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box