Katie Kim - Hour of the Ox (Album Review)

Oxen hold a peculiar position in Chinese culture. The motif of this archetype communicates strength, diligence, and longevity, but also monotony and persistence; like a personal trainer who you will enjoy hanging out with but who you will also hate for pushing you past your limits. Not surprisingly, the year of the Ox is known as a challenging but fruitful period. “Hour Of The Ox” by Waterford artist Katie Kim displays the tenacity of the memetic Ox but forgoes any of the tedium. 

Rhythmic in DNA, the nine alluring songs here trod along in an engaging and refreshingly immediate way. In theory, this is experimental music. Kim stretches everything out and fills the space with exotic sounds and rhythms, but it’s also so simple and could be accurately summarized as indie pop rock. “Feeding on the Metals” is a three-chord, hard-hitting atmosphere propelled by lush bass and attitude. The centerpiece “Gentle Little Bird” is a seven-minute landscape of mourning strings and a rock-steady beat that provide a spine to the emotive and ethereal body. “I See Old Joy” is a succinct country-twinged beauty that employs songwriting traditions to allude to familiarity, though the mood achieved is markedly modern and multifaceted. 

There is a well of loveliness to be found on this album. From the complex opener “Mona” to the arpeggiated city pop of closer “Really Far”, one can drop their proverbial bucket many times and draw fresh water each listen.