Nominated for Independent Pop Album of the Year – 16th Annual LA Music Awards “A Hand to Hold”
With A Hand to Hold, sixteen year-old Katy Eggleton ably adds a compelling female voice and feminine perspective to the male-dominated halls of emo and pop-rock. Two versions of the song ‘Annual’ bookend this eleven-track collection, whose poetic lyrics and scorching guitar lines unfold like a trusted friend’s message in the pages of a high school yearbook. In a record about self-acceptance and the compassion and generosity that spring from it, the verses conclude with this fondly self-deprecating admission: ‘I know I’ve written a novel here, but it’s just what I do.’ It is this mix of wit and wisdom, sincerity and charm that posit Katy as an unassuming and capable scribe for her generation. Imagine that the prettiest girl in school just signed your annual–and wrote for 43 minutes (!). For years to come you’ll read what she had to say. The ‘paperback edition’ of ‘Annual’ kicks off this audio yearbook with a radio-friendly introduction to the inviting voice of Katy Eggleton. Playful memories and heartfelt observations bob along to a pulsing alt-rock beat, with detuned electric guitars snarling at the edge of the speakers. At the center of the mix stands Katy’s coolly deliberate vocals, her deadpan Liz Phair delivery, sure to stop the boys in their tracks and make the girls sing along. Compressed drum and bass, over-distorted Les Pauls, and dead catchy hooks confidently allow Katy to join the cool kids like Fall Out Boy or the All American Rejects at the lunch table. And she’s only sixteen! ‘Don’t get him started ’cause he’ll go on forever–like a bicycle wheel spinning after a crash,’ track two begins. Producer/guitarist/co-writer Rob Seals matches the colorful characters of ‘Broken Glass’ to an equally colorful palette of sounds: stinging electric and shimmering acoustic guitars, a musty Wurlitzer, percolating keys, all atop a top-shelf rhythm section featuring drummer Craig MacIntyre (Josh Groban) and Sean Hurley (Vertical Horizon) on bass. Katy sees the quirks in people not as defects but as wonderful imperfections that make us all unique. When she holds them like broken glass to the light she observes, ‘There’s beauty in the flaws–with colors shining through.’ She then asks, ‘When you see flaws, are they beautiful to you?’ By the end of the piece Katy is able to take her own imperfections and find beauty in them as well. This song of acceptance reveals a songwriter awake to detail and willing to entrust the listener with those humble observations. Appropriate that the quirky verses move in syncopated, hairpin turns before straightening for the song’s wisdom at the memorable chorus. With exuberant wordplay and an infectious power-pop delivery, ‘Like Something Electrical’ mingles with Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, and Fountains of Wayne in re-spinning ’80s rock to clever and winning effect. ‘You are the outlet I plug myself into–I get a charge just being with you,’ Katy sings. The song won Katy Pop Single of the Year at the 2005 Los Angeles Music Awards. That inexplicable spark that two people share feels ‘like something electrical.’ So does AH2H by now, three tracks in and kinetic. The waltz ‘Coming Back’ is perhaps the gem of the record for it’s world-wise lyric, lilting melody, and gently rocking gait. Written after her first cross-country tour as a musician, ‘Coming Back’ explores not just life on the road but how the road and home give context, perspective, and value to one another. The sense of belonging we derive from coming back to where we belong is, as Katy sings, ‘why we go away.’ Tailor-made for a WB show soundtrack and featuring piano and viola from Beth Balmer of the band fielding, ‘Coming Back’ is sure to be a staple on graduation mixes and slideshows. From the romping ‘Good for You’ to the tender ‘Pulling Back,’ the rest of AH2H covers a lot of ground. Anthemic in a ‘Kids in America’ meets ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ way, ‘Good for You’ shows Katy’s lighter side through a grinning portrayal of the 21st Century Teen’s frenetic life. The song sets a playful lyric against maniacal synths and a breakneck tempo. By adding backing vocals from a deluge of cell phone voice mails, we feel what it’s like to sprint in Katy’s shoes. The record’s broad appeal comes from the graceful balance it strikes in songs like this between being at once youthfully current and timeless in it’s concerns. ‘The future’s in good hands but I want to stay a kid today!’ she pleads. The future is surely in good hands if they belong to the author of ‘Pulling Back.’ Here Katy takes the metaphor of a kite to explore the complicated dynamic of friendship. The kite only takes flight when the friend at the other end of the string is willing to pull back: ‘You are like a kite sometimes–the way you dodge the power lines–I grip your string so tight–and I swear I won’t let go,’ Katy sings. This mix of reassurance and hopefulness runs throughout the collection and makes A Hand to Hold something substantial to hold on to. The ‘hardcover edition’ of the song ‘Annual’ finishes the collection, adding two additional verses to the rip-roaring radio version that kicked things off. As Katy promises in the final chorus, ‘My heart is the archives–the album of our lives–open me up, I’ll be there, any time you need…’ we close the book on this first volume of a young artist’s life and career with the anticipation that she has lots more to say. A Hand to Hold seems a fitting title for an album that explores the complexities of friendship. ‘You know that person in your life you are so close with that they are everything to you, that they are a part of you?’ Katy asks. ‘They are a hand to hold in every way. They stay with you, and even if they have to leave, they remain in your heart.’ She reflects, ‘Someone’s hand to hold can change from time to time, but having a hand to hold gives life meaning.’ You know those embarrassing photos from your high school annual that you wish you could erase? There are none of those in A Hand to Hold. Poised and confident, with timely music and timeless insight, this portrait captures Katy Eggleton’s best side.