As the title of her fine fourth album suggests, Kat Edmonson is indeed an old-fashioned girl. A superb singer drawn to songs that sound as if they’re of the vintage variety, she defines herself as a classic chanteuse, one who would be easily at home performing twilight tunes in a smoky supper club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. With an adroit feel for classic jazz circa the ‘30s and ‘40s, she emulates the great standards of days gone by. She possesses a gift for composing alluring and engaging songs, all of which are highly evocative, each on its own.
Despite the fact that Edmonson has tallied up three previous albums, several high profile tours and a number of major media appearances — among them, guest slots on Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with David Letterman and Austin City Limits to name but a few — she’s only just now securing center stage. In a way, Old Fashioned Gal parallels her ascent, with opening track “Sparkle and Shine” offering this telling lyric: “So the critics stand in line to doubt you/Make you question who you think you are…” It’s an ironic aside considering the fact she’s so clearly confident throughout. Yet by the time the album concludes with “Not My Time,” she’s singing, “I auditioned to be a star/in all my ambition, I knew I’d go far” and obviously meaning every word as well.
Indeed, it’s no wonder why. These songs are illuminated by both a swoon and a sway, wistful at times and slyly alluring at others. The swinging rhythm that underscores “If,” the vampish attitude accompanying “Canoe,” the sprightly romp that characterizes “How’s About It Baby,” “With You” and the title track all make it clear that Edmonson has a gift for suggesting she’s both seductive and sentimental, thanks in large part to her knowing glance. Strings and piano provide adroit accompaniment, but it’s Edmonson herself who steals the show.