If any artist were deserving of a break, KT Tunstall certainly found herself in that position at the beginning of 2012. Having wrapped up a world tour in support of her last studio album, 2010’s Tiger Suit, Tunstall intended to take things easy for a bit– reassess her career, musical direction, take a general overall breath or two.
Instead, the musician found herself yet again being led by her art. Instead of taking the rest she was initially hoping for, she was compelled to travel to the Arizona desert, where she began work with Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb — a new acquaintance whom she had met the previous year and found to be a kindred spirit in terms of craft. There, the pair began writing music at Gelb’s Tuscon studio that took an eerily clairvoyant turn; as Tunstall was soon to find out.
After having written a handful of extraordinarily aching, melancholy tunes in the beginning half of ’12, Tunstall had — no hyperbole — her life turned upside down in a one-two knockout. First, her father passed away in August. Then, Tunstall found herself in the middle of a divorce (from fellow musician Luke Bullen, whom she married in 2008) the following month.
As she herself points out, however, the first half of her new collection of songs, Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon — which almost literally drip with pain — were all composed before these two deeply wounding personal events took place.
As odd as this foresight seems (Tunstall herself admits it’s on the creepy side), it’s really the second half of Tunstall’s album that shines, due to its unique artistry. Almost “rising from the ashes” of the bleeding first half of the album, it renews hope, feels graceful, and satisfies the listener all in one. Full circles are difficult for any musician to achieve, but Tunstall’s peaceful resolution stands out as a truly polished, remarkable achievement in stark relief against the history behind the entire work.
Tunstall recently stopped by the Yahoo! Music studios to perform songs from the double album, as well as sit down with us and discuss the process behind its creation. Here, she talks about the two personal tragedies that fell in the middle of her songwriting, how she worked through them, how the Arizona desert influenced her art, some funny anecdotes about the making of the set’s first video, and what she plans to do next (if you’re wondering–yes, she does plan to take that needed break…eventually). Enjoy!