One disadvantage of having a secret identity is that no one knows who you really are, even if you insist on leaving a gigantic clue in the name you’ve chosen for your alter-ego.
Drummer, vocalist, and songwriter Stu Kidd has been making endearing little pop vignettes for some time under the name of…well… “KiDD”, so it shouldn’t really take Sherlock Holmes to track him down. Nevertheless, he has remained stubbornly less than visible to all except the myriad recording artists who’ve called upon him to contribute on the sticks and/or harmony vocals.
Stu Kidd is essentially a drummer who sings, but I prefer to describe him as a pop dreamer whose gossamer melodies and float-away tunes have featured heavily on 1320Radio from its inception. I’d go so far as to say several of his songs totally nail the tone and colour of our station which attempts to programme eclectic diversity, yet offer a distinctly coherent consistent listener experience.
Over the last few years, Stu Kidd has been quietly placing his songs on the internet for all to discover, especially those in search of short, sweet and affectionately referential pop fare. He’s bit like the Bandcamp tooth fairy, often asking only for an email address or a thumbs- up in return for his efforts.
Now his collected songs are available as a sort of greatest hits that never were, but have since become deeply embedded, total recall delights for anyone who heard them. Anyone that is, with ears for thick layers of harmony pop, sandbox eccentricities and playful tunes.
Hotchpotch is, at first glance a KiDD retrospective with tracks drawn from two previous albums and an EP, but it might be more accurately described as a coach tour through one man’s pop mind. The landscape is full of familiar features that might remind you of past decades, but it’s Stu who has his eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel.
Breathe in the Country sings our tour guide on a magical little sojourn, humming along with the best pal Alfie (no, not that Alfie) and the endearing Little Lucy. These are sincere heartfelt pop songs, as natural as sunlight and just as bright. If there are cheery waves to a roadside crowd that consists largely of great songwriters from the last five decades then so much the better. It can’t be wrong to love and respect the past when it’s enriched so many lives and created lasting, meaningful memories.
Hotchpotch contains thirteen stops on the Stu Kidd’s excursion through an interestingly pastoral pop landscape, for it’s almost as if he’s governed by an overriding urge to escape the oppressive banalities of current pop product. In fact, I think that his watercolour imaginings of escape to better places and happier times feature almost as strongly as the vintage music that’s influenced his ideas about composition. The dreamily observational Rooftop Cityscape and the gently soporific Leave Me Here I’m Sleeping are good examples of this, and they also underscore his taste for quiet understatement and the softly suggested point of view.
Kidd has long collaborated with Marco Rea in The Wellgreen and I’ve written about their sonic adventures here. He’s also been the stickman of choice for Joe McAlinden, BMX Bandits, The Pearlfishers and Euros Childs, but I can’t think of him solely in those terms, however in demand he may be. The real Stu Kidd is the driver, the ticket collector, the mechanic, and the personable travelling companion on an affordable day-return to Pop-Land and back. There’s no Satnav for that, you have to get someone like KiDD who knows the route like the back of his hand.
Photograph of “Snorkeling Stu Kidd” by Rachel Keenan Photography