KT Tunstall

Through the telescope

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By Michael Norman  

This pint-sized Scottish dynamo's debut album crackles with the sort of energy and originality that heralds the coming of a new star. Tunstall is already a big name in the U.K., where Eye to the Telescope was first released in late 2004.

She's making steady headway stateside, courtesy of two sparkling, irresistible singles -- "Black Horse & Cherry Tree" and "Suddenly I See," both of which showcase her earthy mix of smart, ethereal pop, blues-rock, folk, jazz and dance music. If you haven't heard those two tunes on the radio, you've probably caught bits of them on television: Both have been used repeatedly as scene setters and background music on top-rated shows ranging from Grey's Anatomy to So You Think You Can Dance.

Tunstall has a big, soulful voice reminiscent of earthy, blues-rock belters such as Linda Perry, Joan Osbourne and Joss Stone. But she channels it through a classic pop-rock blender that is part Rickie Lee Jones, part Carole King, part Kylie Minogue. She is the complete package as an artist, too -- a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, piano and flute and a talented songwriter who creates sing-along pop songs with a bristling, captivating edge.

You can feel hearts breaking in the gorgeous, dreamlike folk-pop of "Other Side of the World," taste the indignation and anger in the roiling blues-rock of "Another Place to Fall," and hear the pain and lament in the swaying, gospel prayer of "Through the Dark." Most of today's pop stars have a difficult time putting out an album with two or three great songs. With Eye to the Telescope, Tunstall has created 45 minutes of pop glory that's engaging from beginning to end.

Michael Norman is Entertainment Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.