Elle King hit gold with her 2015 album “Love Stuff.” The hit song “Ex’s & Oh’s” tattooed several Billboard charts, and King toured relentlessly behind the album.
King’s follow-up, “Shake the Spirit,” came out last fall, and she not only avoided the sophomore slump but decimated it with 13 unflinching songs shot off like cannons with a sometimes explosive, sometimes stormy and sometimes sultry voice.
King will be at State Theatre in Portland to perform songs from both albums during an upcoming show.
About a month before the album was released, King shared a trailer on YouTube. It was like an audio version of an artist’s statement you would see in a gallery, and left nothing to the imagination. “I was dealing with really intense and major mental issues, but I was so in this moment that I would shake when I would sing,” she said. King also talked about the power of loving yourself and how beauty is often reciprocated when you put it out in the world.
King, 29, is the daughter of the comedian and actor Rob Schneider.
I’ve listened to “Shake the Spirit” at least a dozen times and start to finish, it’s a tremendous record with an often retro vibe. File King’s vocals under rock. But also under roots, blues and even country. She has sass to spare and a knack for penning acutely personal but entirely relatable and catchy songs. Here’s six you should hear – and situations for which they’re particularly well suited.
The album-opening “Talk Of The Town” earned a spot on my Beach to Beacon training mix because it spits fire with a pounding rhythm that will help power these tired old legs up the course’s brutal hills in the coming months. Also would work well in a spin class or rage walk.
“Baby Outlaw” fits this bill perfectly. “Well I ain’t nobody’s baby, I’m an outlaw/You know I ain’t evil but I ain’t a saint/Can’t help it, I was born this way/Oh baby, outlaw/Ooh baby, I’m an outlaw.” This song takes no prisoners and King is the last woman standing. Either join her or get the hell out of her way.
“Told You So” has King starting off saying she doesn’t want to talk about it. Then she lays it all out there with lines like “I bet they stayed up all night long on the telephone/He used to love me like that/Everybody gonna hit me with ‘I told you so,’ I never wanna hear ‘I told you so.’ ” The song has the added bonus of an infectious hook, and may inadvertently cross the line into workout jam.
“Good Thing Gone” is a ballad during which King speaks to an ex with a tender tone while acknowledging the relationship wasn’t meant to be. “Time is a stubborn affair, the distance was too much to bear/Oh, with a heavy heart, I must leave the one I love.” Add to this some horns, strings, ’60s-esque keys and a huge swell of backing vocals, and “Good Thing Gone” is a bitter pill lyrically that’s musically quite easy and enjoyable to swallow.
“It Girl” is best enjoyed with a few belts of whiskey and a set of ears that can handle some pretty salty language. King serves it up in a toe-tappin’ song with swirls of horns and an unexpected duo of male backing vocals. You’ll also find yourself clapping along to “It Girl.” Just don’t start accidentally singing this one at work unless you enjoy getting hauled off to HR.
“Little Bit Of Lovin’ “ closes out “Shake the Spirit” by showing off the depths of King’s soulful, gritty, tear-down-the-walls voice. Closing in at just under seven minutes, the song includes a significant spoken-word passage. “I wanted to give up, ooh, I wanted to give up so bad/But I still believe that there is beauty in this world,” preaches King during a tune that’s a spiritual proclamation about the power of loving yourself. I predict King will end the show with this one.
And as an added bonus, here’s the official video to another fantastic “Shake the Spirit” track called “Shame”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 23
WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $30 in advance, $35 day of show
TICKETS & INFO: statetheatreportland.com