I was excited to get my hands on a copy of Kadia’s new album ‘East of Alexandria’, I remember speaking with Kadia last year when their album was no more than an idea. They were considering using session musicians, more specifically a violinist. Keen to see if they had invited other musicians to accompany them I quickly opened their map covered CD case to inspect the sleeve notes. Only one track ‘The Rise and Fall of Mary Read’ included a violin. I was surprised that they had been sparing with the involvement of other musicians, but not disappointed, I like an album to sound like a representation of a band's live performance. But ever curious I skipped straight to track seven to hear what impact a violin would have to this already accomplished band. As the tune unfolded my attention was divided, half of me was listening out for the violin (which did add a playful element), whilst the other half enjoyed over four minutes of an uninterrupted instrumental. It is always a gamble to include an instrumental on any album, especially a debut album. But it is a gamble that paid off for Kadia, proving they are a band of serious musicians.
The album starts with a beautiful intro, soft/smooth cello, accompanied by dramatic acoustic guitar. Then a thunderous bass drum is brought into the mix, unifying all three band members. A perfect introduction to the song, the album and the band. The song which proceeds tells the story of a Lord who loses his Lady to the charms of a travelling gypsy. All songs on this album (apart from the instrumental) have strong lyrics which tell a story. Lee Cuff’s clear vocal delivery makes it effortless for me to hear each and every valuable word.
Track two ‘Beast of Bodmin Moor’ demonstrates the high quality of the recording. As you’d expect all instruments sound natural and are well balanced, but in addition to this the ukulele dances all over the stereo spectrum giving this small instrument a big presents. I’m also in awe of the bass drum which pounds through the track with a deep atmospheric boom.
As I progressed through the album I notice that Kadia are masters of writing catchy chorus’. In fact they have applied what is typically a pop formula to almost all of their original songs. The best example of this is ‘Silver Linings’ (track 8). It has powerfully emotional lyrics “what if you’re the one that I can’t afford to lose” sung to a catchy melody. Constructing folk songs to sit within a pop template makes Kadia essential listening for anyone wanting to explore the world of folk music.