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Review: K.Flay celebrates all her sides on CD ‘Solutions’

July 10, 2019
This cover image released by Night Street Records shows "Solutions," by K.Flay. (Night Street Records via AP)

K.Flay, “Solutions” (Night Street Records/Interscope)

It’s always been hard to pin down K.Flay’s music. She’s a bit of a sonic chameleon, mixing elements of hip-hop, rock and indie pop with moods that go from brash to introspective. You’ll get no clear answers after listening to her new album “Solutions” — thankfully.

K.Flay, the stage name of Illinois-raised Kristine Flaherty, starts her third studio CD with the wonderfully autobiographical statement song “I Like Myself (Most of the Time)” and ends with a wistful tune about her father, “DNA.” In between, we get to celebrate all the gloriously different sides of an artist who resists getting boxed up in one genre.

There’s The B-52-ish “This Baby Don’t Cry” and the Lorde-adjacent “Bad Vibes.” She channels Weezer on the environmentally conscious “Not in California” and practically raps on “Good News.” Her thrilling vocals range from babyish to Joan Jett-ish.

K.Flay, whose biggest hit to date is her 2017 “Blood in the Cut,” got a song on the TV show “Riverdale” and has been featured on songs by X Ambassadors, Tom Morello and Mike Shinoda.

Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds is also a fan. He invited her to open for the Dragons on tour and signed her to his Interscope-distributed label, Night Street. (He gets a co-writing credit on her “This Baby Don’t Cry.”)

K.Flay had a hand in writing every song and plays guitar and keyboards on a few. She gets production help from some old fans — Tommy English (who earned a Grammy nomination for K.Flay’s album “Every Where Is Some Where”) and JT Daly, who helmed “Blood in the Cut” to his own Grammy nod.

“Solutions” reveals a woman unbowed by social pressure, angry by adulthood’s lies and aware of her insecurities but not defined by them. She mocks overly posed Instagram photos, calls out fakers — “You’re the sequel that sucks” — and is modest about her goals:

“Everybody wants to count their calories and money and their likes/ Baby, my job is just to rhyme/ And I’m fine with that,” she sings on the opening song.

OK, but definitely count us as a like.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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