Album Review: “Cupcake” by Said Kelley

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Said Kelley is a acoustic pop band based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and the trio was founded by longtime musician, Kelley Larson, who serves as both the voice of the band and the guitarist. Setting her apart from most singer/songwriters I’ve come across is the fact that her main priority is her husband and children, not music.

Her love for music is quite obvious, though, and she uses her family as the inspiration for her songs on the bands current release, “Cupcake”.

The lead track is “Sbwdsufs”. It’s a very rhythmic song, driven heavily by the drums, though the bass works its way into the groove quite well, accenting it and giving it a rather hypnotic beat. To balance it out you have Kelley’s voice, which often soars on the song, and gives it an infectious pop quality. When it’s all said and done, it’s proved to be a splendid introduction to the band and their sound. So, if you listen to only one of Said Kelley’s songs, let it be this one. Then afterwards, you should find yourself hungering for more.

The next song, “Make Me Up”, carries a deep message with it, and one that I imagine could hit home with a lot of people (particularly women). “…I don’t need no makeup to make me up… I don’t need your scales to weigh my worth…” Kelly croons on the chorus, which is all about being who you are and “…breaking the mold created by society…”. It’s a must listen for anyone who may think they don’t belong for one reason or another. i.e. because they aren’t “supermodel thin”. Granted, it doesn’t carry as much weight with me personally (I think being a guy has a lot to do with that), but I can easily see how this could be an empowering song.

Following it is the shorter, acoustic song, “White Walls”. As good as their more Pop based music is, I think they sound their best on this one, and the other slower tunes that are scattered throughout the record. Since first hearing it, I’ve liked the percussion instrument known as a cajon, and it’s used to make a tranquil sound on this tune. And as amazing as Kelly’s voice sounds on the other songs, it’s most captivating here, having a very passionate quality to it and fills the song with emotion.

“Forbidden Lover” has a fiery sound, in a sultry sense, that behooves the atmosphere it’s trying (and successfully) creates. However, it gets a little repetitive to me. Don’t misconstrue that, I’m not saying it’s a bad song, it’s just not one of my favorites.

That brings us to the title track from the album, “Cupcake”. The song is dripping with metaphors, which in turn makes it one of the smartest songs I’ve ever heard. It’s a love song of sorts, probably best summed up with the opening line, “I wanna be your cupcake. Something you look forward to…”, but the best parts are found deeper in the song, like the bridge towards the end, “…Simply sweet, delightfully delicious. Your ultimate fantasy…”. It’s simply a brilliant song, and with the occasional, not so subtle innuendos, it walks a very fine line of being both a sweet song, and a slightly dirty one, which is precisely what makes it so enjoyable.

Things again hit a lull with “Alex Fred”. It’s pointed out on the chorus that, “…This is not a love song about you, it’s just the hard reality of how I really feel about you…”, but it sure sounds like a love song. And a pretty good one at that.

The pace picks up a little with the “Gray Cloud”, which is the longest track on the album. It’s still fairly soft, but the percussion is more much more pronounced on it, than say, the previous song. It’s another highlight song on this fine record, and also another one that showcases Kelley’s gift of penning songs. For instance, this part from late in the second verse, “…As the winds around me dictate the choices I make. A shower of tears puddles around my knees. As I look to my gray cloud for peace…”. Just pay attention to it, and the lyrics alone will drag you in.

Some rather somber bass notes get “Free” going, which is a fitting emotion. The song paints a picture of not being entirely sure who you are as a person, even possible trapped in your own skin, but longing to get out and be, as the title suggests, free. It’s really not as depressing as it might sound, though. Instead, it’s kind of uplifting, speaking of a person who does see all the good qualities, even if she might not have at the time.

The best love song on the record is the next track, “Long Enough”. She just plainly professes her love for her special someone, singing that, “…Forever isn’t long enough…”, It’s straightforward and simple, and that’s often the best way to say stuff of that magnitude.

“Pop Rock Lips” is the closest thing to a sappy tune on this record. I don’t feel that “sappy” is the best word to describe it, though. Like the other songs found on the album, it simply provides a clever way of saying something sincere. Helping it out is the more electric vibe it has, sounding pretty poppy and upbeat, which is very behooving of the lyrics.

“Beautiful” brings things to a close, which is an entirely acoustic song, with the exception of a violin which is added at various points. The lack of the other instruments leaves Kelley’s voice completely exposed, which allows it to sound better here than any previous song. It will most likely leave you awestruck, and the violin serves to only intensify its beauty on this more spiritual based tune.

Over all, I’d say “Cupcake” is an excellent album, simply because all the songs that comprise it are so honest and open.

Unlike some music from other bands, it’s very easy to conclude what the subject matter is about, but are clever enough that they aren’t just plain. Even better than that is the fact that none of these songs sound like anything you’ve heard before. That is to say, the lyrics are better than a majority of the songs out there, and by leaps and bounds at that. And by listening to it, I guarantee you will find at least one song that evokes some type of emotion in you.

Said Kelley is:
Kelley Larson – Vocals & Guitar
Heather Weideman - Bass
Holly Maczuzak – Drums

Purchase the album on:
iTunes / CD Baby

Visit Said Kelley’s websites:
Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube / Reverbnation

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