KT TunstallDrastic Fantastic
Essential: "Saving My Face"
Much could be made of the cover of "Drastic Fantastic." You might surmise, for instance, that the Scottish-born, indie singer-songwriter KT Tunstall has gone pop tart. Don't be distracted by the short skirt and white boots. Check Tunstall's iconic male-rocker stance, how she wields a guitar rather than show off her midriff. Tunstall is the anti-Britney; while she can write a hook with the best of them, she exudes knowing maturity and competence, not the little-girl-out-of-control posturing of so many female pop singers. True, Tunstall's third album is far less gritty than her first album, "Eye to the Telescope," with its hits "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "'Suddenly I See." But Tunstall has been forced to flirt with full-blown pop; an "American Idol" performance by Katharine McPhee of "Black Horse" sent Tunstall's star soaring. The infectious, almost bubbly "Hold On" on "Drastic" addresses that experience, both musically and lyrically. The hooks keep coming: in the musing of "Saving My Face," the rocking "Little Favors," and the metaphorical "White Bird." A couple of songs are forgettable, some riffs too Top 40, yet it's heartening to see a 30-something artist blazing her own path. Those white boots were made for walking. [Stephanie Schorow]