Kat McDowell: “Rise Above” Album Review

Written By: Michelle Doering 

Twitter: @M_Deezy15

Originality: (3.5 / 5)
Vocals/Flow: (3.5 / 5)
Lyrics: (4.0 / 5)
Production: (4.0 / 5)
Average: (3.8 / 5)

A couple of years ago my best friend and I attended a Japanese cultural festival in Phoenix, Arizona and randomly stumbled upon a sweet singer-songwriter named Kat McDowell.

It was late afternoon and we were exploring all of the different vendor booths, when a voice blasted from the speakers and completely stopped us in our tracks. We ended up finding seats and settling down by the stage and sitting through Kat’s entire set, which is a real feat considering my friend was cinched into a full kimono and could barely move, much less sit down for half an hour.

Both of us bought CDs off of her afterward and have been huge fans ever since.

Her music is folksy and cute with authentic lyrics in both English and Japanese. They all sound like those heart warming songs that advertisers try and sneak into the background of commercials to get you to buy cars and home-goods. It’s like Jack Johnson meets Colbie Caillat with a little bit of Ingrid Michaelson and The Police. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’ll make sense if you listen to it. I swear.

Her most recent album, Rise Above, is such a lovely thing to play when you’re feeling down. It’s fun, meaningful, and inherently hopeful. It’s the kind of music you always want to have on your phone or in your car just in case you start to feel sad.

My favorite song, which also happens to be the one that caught our attention at the festival, is called “A Little Rain.” This is a beautifully understated track about, you guessed it, rising above. The constant repetition of the line, “A little rain won’t get me down” followed by rhythmic oohs always puts me in a better frame of mind. It’s like a modern day “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Also, it’s incredibly hummable and constantly getting stuck in my head.

Similarly, there’s a song called “Lovely Day” that’s very upbeat and toe-tapping and held together by a constant stream of ukulele. Y’all know I love me some ukulele pop songs. It’s simple, but infectious and charming. Just like the whole album in general.

I’d also like to highlight one of the more serious songs, “Human.” This one is just so beautifully written. My favorite line is the repeated, “If butterflies don’t need to be taught how to fly, then surely I, can forgive you.” The song is so raw and emotional and full of powerful lyrics, but it still sounds so mellow and sweet.

The final song I would recommend from this album is “Dianna.” The one word I would use to describe this song is just fun. It’s easily the most jumpy/dance-y song I’ve ever heard from Kat and the lyrics are insanely adorable. Definitely worth the listen.

Rise Above, true to its name, is such a good album for anyone who’s going through some hard times. I highly recommend both it, and Kat McDowell’s music in general. I’m definitely looking forward to more music from her in the future.