TRENTON -- Two seconds. Maybe three. That's about how long it took to realize Kelly Carvin can tear it up with her 6-string and her voice, and her attitude and her sass. She wasn't more than 10 seconds into "Rebel On" as she opened Wednesday's "Live with L.A." when I knew the Hamilton girl would become a mainstay on Trentonian TV. She wasn't more than 30 seconds into "Rebel On" when "Trentonian Unplugged: Carvin It Up" came to mind.
And so here we are on an easy Sunday morn, preparing for, and anticipating, the debut of Trentonian TV's first musical gig. Kelly Carvin, who plays the CARVIN 6-string because they liked her musical mojo that much, will perform songs from her self-titled debut album, which is a great listen and worth every penny. She'll banter a bit between songs, too. Six songs comprise her album. It is beautifully produced, definitely not a do-it-yourself dollar-50 job. Close your eyes and listen to Kelly's voice and her lyrics and her strummin' and pickin' and the instrumentals by her band The Future and you find yourself somewhere between Honky Tonk and Hollywood, a little Dylan and a lot of Adele, and plenty of Janis. Carvin also has a little Bonnie Raitt thing going on in "Heartstrings" -- and the sweet, swirling of guitar licks is a mix of the Grateful Dead and Grand Ole Opry. "Kills Me" is a sad, slow love song with the feel of Miley Cyrus; and for those Miley haters, you haven't been paying attention because Miley is strong. "Pain" is radio-ready and has a great hook with "and I never in fall in love with pain, but it sure feels good tonight, so I'm going to give it away." The 4th song on Kelly's album is called "TFGB" or Time For Goodbye, which starts slow then amps up with metal'ish guitars. The singer talks about the first time eyes of lovers met and how she knew she'd be the light in his dark world only to become a nightlight (until she decides not to be). "So Alive" comes at you with Fiona Apple-like storytelling. It's about a girl with hard issues, who is "so scared of everything" because of bad things that happened to her at 9, 9 and a half, yet there's a "feeling of pain she savors" and yet it allows her to "feel so alive." There's a bluesy tone in the way Kelly picks her Carvin in this song.
The last song on the album is "Don't Lie to Me" and like "Pain" it is radio-ready because it's radio-ready good.
Kelly Carvin is 24 but has the talent and chops of a 25-year music vet. She was 18 when she learned to play the guitar. She wrote every song on the album. She made the 1st round of "American Idol" in Philly (2007), won Mercer County's "Searching for the Stars" (2008, judged by producer Vanessa Rogers of the Apollo Theater), won the "Freehold Idol" competition, was nominated for Best Female Acoustic Act for the Asbury Park Music Awards, was a finalist in "The Break Contest" at the Stony Pony, was one of 3 singers to sing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (Cyndi Lauper's anthem) at "Hazard's Memorial Tribute Show", was sponsored by Carvin Guitars in 2009, was a top 10 finalist with her band (The Future) in the "Singing Sensations Contest" sponsored by NBC10 and Six Flags Great Adventure, made the first round of The Voice, has performed at The Apollo, Stony Pony, Katmandu, The Crocodile Rock Cafe, the Tin Angel, NBC10, performed across America from West By God to West Hollywood, opened for Lukas Rossi of SuperNova, Jersey legend John Eddie and '80s icon Jeffrey Gaines ... and now she becomes the first rocker to host Trentonian TV Unplugged.
She's good. Very good. And not in a "Oh, look, Charlie, she's from Hamilton, let's support the nice girl in her little music thing" -- but in a "Charlie! We've got ourselves a rock 'n' roll superstar right here in Hamilton!"
Here is Kelly's appearance on L.A.'s show Wednesday.