It’s a cliché to talk about the second album of a new artist as mature. But in the case of Katy B, it’s an apt description for the tenor of Little Red.
Katy B burst onto the urban dance music scene in Britain three years ago with her debut, On A Mission. The album was nominated for the 2011 Mercury Music Prize. Katy B lost out to the remarkable Let England Shake from PJ Harvey but it would have been a worthy winner.
In her debut, Katy B confidently combined house, dubstep, drum’n’bass and garage to produce an album that bridged street credibility and chart appeal.
Three years on, Little Red picks up with a more polished, glossy sound that is bound to attract new fans to the soulful vocals of the graduate of the Brit School. The result is a more sophisticated collection of beautifully produced tunes that adds a polished sheen of deep house and R’n’B.
But something has been lost along the way. The urban sounds of garage and drum’n’bass have been eschewed in favour of mainstream commercial dance. The rough edges of Katy B’s debut has been smoothed out. Little Red loses just a little of what made On a Mission such a compelling listen.
There is still much to enjoy on Little Red, from the dancefloor anthem 5 a.m. to the 90s-infused cuts, Everything and Aaliyah featuring Jessie Ware. With its mainstream appeal, expect to hear it everywhere.