Cooler Than Cool: Mellow Dissonance in Katie Lynne Sharbaugh’s “Nothing Left to Lose”

At first glance, jazz and garage rock don’t appear to have all that much in common. But as expressions of feeling, the two genres have a knack for hitting the nail on the head more often than not. For a hard hitting combo of these, I recommend Sonny Sharrock. For a more mellow dose, Katie Lynne Sharbaugh’s “Nothing Left to Lose” is a great place to turn.

The guitars of “Nothing Left to Lose” are captivatingly and deceptively smooth, opting for more subdued punches in favor of sharp struts. It’s a simple choice, fitting for the sparse arrangement, but it makes all the difference. The sonic qualities lay a soft bed for which Sharbaugh’s voice can effortlessly toss and turn in cool motion. It’s not unlike older jazz recordings, in which the rhythm sections were able to lend atmosphere to the lead woodwind or brass, acting as a rhythmic wash due as much to the stylistics of performance as the limitations of the recording equipment.

That is not to say that “Nothing Left to Lose” is lacking in auditory quality- its secret weapon is its bare bones approach, not unlike that found in the best house band not enough people got to see. And at risk of nerding out about the sonics too much, let’s address the star that is Sharbaugh’s voice- at once effortless and ranged, just as it is dynamic and rounded in its characterizations of her lyrics.

“Nothing Left to Lose” is an excellent example of economy, but its heart and soul are the treasures that linger. Well, and that hook, of course. The new single- first from an upcoming double album- is out now and streaming everywhere. Do yourself a favor and check it out.


Review by Bobby Guard


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