Album: Nellie McKay

Get Away From Me, COLUMBIA

Andy Gill
Saturday 13 July 2013 03:19

The London-born, Harlem-raised singer/pianist Nellie McKay is the kind of prodigy who makes other musicians give up and go home. Aged just 19, her talent is far too great to be satisfactorily contained by a single genre; accordingly, her mix of jazzy stylings and hip-hop attitude has already drawn comparisons with Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Elvis Costello and Eminem - heady company in any era you choose. It's a stylistic blend that enables her to bring lines about "junkies prowling deep in the jazzy hue of the streetlight" into a Peggy Lee-style number such as "Manhattan Avenue"; and to introduce references to Faust (and terms such as "malingering" and "motionless psychosis") into a spunky jazz-rap like "Sari". Smart, sly and literate, she seems old beyond her years - not just in her effortless command of jazz piano (and organ, synth, recorder, vibes, xylophone and sundry other tuned percussion), but also in the mischievous intelligence evident in her takes on the emptiness of wealth ("Respectable"), human cloning ("Clonie"), how she sought solace for the death of her cat in a series of meaningless sexual encounters ("Ding Dong"), and how her dog cured her loneliness ("Dog Song"). Impeccably produced by the Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, Get Away From Me puts the efforts of the Norahs and Katies in some perspective.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments