“Nothing like a good thing going the wrong way.” Queen Kwong.

After seeing Carré Kwong Callaway perform with her band Queen Kwong at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale, AZ, I could see—not to mention hear—why Trent Reznor is such a fan of hers. The story of how Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, discovered her while Callaway was a wandering teenager living in New Orleans is slowly becoming the stuff of legend. However, it was because of this fateful encounter that I felt compelled to listen to her songs for myself. What I heard sounded nothing like NIN, which was refreshing. On the contrary, I experienced the work of an artist who has nurtured the raw energy and emotion expressed in her songs into something that unleashes a spirit all its own. In the case of “Sucker,” which is from QK’s recent EP ‘Bad Lieutenant’, Callaway takes the familiar theme of a relationship gone bad and turns the genre on its head, lacing the song’s mesmerizing melody with lyrics, sung tenderly, telling the story of a girl who will inevitably break your heart. She is neither a femme fatale nor a slut. She is something other. She has the heart of the wind, which never sits still. “You’ve heard it all before, I’m the kind of girl who keeps one foot out the door.” As I stood near the stage capturing this ravishing performance on video, Callaway made her words, sung in a sweetly plaintive voice, feel like she was singing for my forgiveness. She made me think back on the kind of girl I once knew who ‘never loved me the way she wanted to’. Listening and reminiscing, I let Callaway’s voice engulf me in a mist of sorrow and beauty as the bass, then the drums, slipped gracefully and movingly into the chords that flowed from Callaway’s guitar.  Video credit: David Martínez, Pub Rock, Thursday, October 3, 2013.

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