Thankfully, I heard most of Elle King's album, Love Stuff, before reading who her parents are — a former SNL comedian and a model. And it shouldn't make a difference — Google it if you're that curious. King's raspy, steel-cutting vocals command attention whether they are set against an acoustic backdrop or some soulful rock thunder. It's as if Amy Winehouse took a trip to the country with Tom Waits, perhaps.
Her debut full-length album kicks off with "Where the Devil Don't Go," giving the listener a quick slap of retro-infused music that combines country, rock, pop and soul — and it's catchy as hell. "Ex's & Oh's" gets steeped in a bit more country soul with its foot-tapping beat and Pistol Annies attitude. "Last Damn Night" sounds like a Black Keys outtake with its fuzzed-out, bluesy guitar riff driving the song. "Kocaine Karolina" showcases a sweeter side of King's vocals overtop a strummed banjo. "America's Sweetheart" is built for arenas with its power chorus and "Well they say I'm too loud for this town, so I lit a match and burned it down. What do you want from me, I'm not America's Sweetheart."
It's no surprise that her recent performances at SXSW garnered quite a bit of praise all over the interwebs. I can only imagine that if King has half as much personality and sass onstage that you can hear on the album, she's going to quickly gain a massive fanbase this year. Thanks to start-to-finish listenability that's fresh yet familiar, this one's going on a stack with Kendrick Lamar's latest to save for the year-end top 10 list.