There's something immensely likeable about KT Tunstall. Where most contemporary female singer-songwriters are bland, boring or both (Dido, anyone?), Tunstall is acid-tongued, smart and on the right side of feisty to avoid being annoying.
Drastic Fantastic, her sophomore album, may be inappropriately named, however. If anything it's a less drastic record than its million-selling predecessor Eye To The Telescope, opting instead to follow a more conventional pop-rock template. In this sense it's as far away from KT's roots in Fife's alt-folk Fence Collective as Land's End is from John O'Groats.
That said there's much to enjoy about Drastic Fantastic. Unlike her debut it feels like an album made to play live, with 'Little Favours' and 'If Only' showing off her excellent backing band, including Tunstall's drumming beau, 'lucky' Luke Bullen. Elsewhere Willy Mason lends his vocals to the jaunty 'Hopeless' - returning KT's appearance on his last single - whilst the bluesy stomp of single 'Hold On' is infectious.
But sometimes Tunstall works best solo, and it's the introspective 'Somewhere Soon' which provides the album's highlight. With a fragile guitar riff and tender vocal evoking kd lang, it shows the likes of Amy Macdonald and Jem up for the pretenders they are.
With Drastic Fantastic Tunstall seems to be staking her claim as the young Chrissie Hynde. That she does this with considerable aplomb is testament to her skills as a writer and performer. If it's classy mainstream pop with a bite you're after, you won't get much better than this. --Rowan Collinson
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1. Little Favours 2. If Only 3. White Bird 4. Funnyman 5. Hold On 6. Hopeless 7. I Don't Want You Now 8. Saving My Face 9. Beauty Of Uncertainty 10. Someday Soon 11. Paper Aeroplane