Kristen Cothron is leaving a mark on Nashville for two reasons, the first being songwriting capabilities bearing the cleverness and skill of an older and more experienced artist, and the second being a lush, sultry voice built for old world jazz. Last month marked the release of a little vinyl number, covered with a black-and-white photo of a cigarette-smoking Cothron, dressed old-fashioned dominatrix style. The self-titled 7” offers up three songs; one side is loaded with a jaded lyrical bite and the other contrasts with soft speculations of love.
Opener “Anthem” lives up to its name, decked out in horns and Cothron’s full-bodied alto which is sometimes a little Amy Winehouse, other times a bit Chrissie Hynde. “There are things you can do to come out ahead/people can be moved/they’re so easily led” she sings on “Dark Side.” “Attention, I know how to get you/affection, I only forget you.” Cothron plays the role of the steely and unattainable temptress, and artfully so with a seductive-almost-racy style that maintains an air of class and sophistication—an ideal soundtrack for Bettie Page to pose or for Cruella de Vil to lounge about smoking.
A friend who also gave this recording a spin expressed the need to use a cigarette clip after listening, which sums up the smoky cabaret, boa-wearing style Cothron works. Subtle instrumentation, particularly some understated electric guitar unwinding in the background grounds a very much reincarnated sound. Cothron isn’t the first contemporary to take on jazz pop, but hers in genuine, not meant to be kitschy and probably the most authentic of its kind I’ve heard in Nashville.