When you first hear its rolling riff and Tara Kimes’s earnest Kentucky twang, you might think She Might Bite‘s “The Key” is a good-old-fashioned Southern folk jam. But as the jangly guitar picks up and Kimes’s croons becomes more insolent, it becomes clear that this is truly rock and roll — and apart from its ’70s-rock roots, there’s not that much “old-fashioned” about it.
“The Key” is the lead single off She Might Bite’s October 27 Don’t Entertain EP, a collection of what Kimes calls “surf-garage rock poetry” and her first project since splitting from sister Courtney and Kathryn Slaughter. (She plays all the instruments herself and recruited Alice Miller as her backup singer.) The Louisville-based singer says that while She Might Bite was clearly going for that “angry riot girl sort of thing” on last year’s Feral, since going solo, her music has morphed into something slightly more introspective and a hell of a lot darker.
“The Key,” which closes out the five-track EP, isn’t necessarily dark, but it is defiant. Kimes admittedly “fascinated” by ’70s rock and artists like Heart, Iggy & the Stooges, Fleetwood Mac, Rufus and Chaka Khan. And while those influences are palpable, so are those of delta blues singers like R.L. Burnside and Robert Johnson, who remind her “to just say it, don’t beat around the bush.”
A message to the detractors who are always “keeping her out,” “The Key” couldn’t get much more direct: She’s “kicking down the signs as they keep me away” and reminding them that “you don’t have to let me in/I have a key.”
“‘The Key’ is the one song that probably sums up my change best because it’s about finding self-worth,” Kimes tells Hive, “Pretty much saying, ‘Fuck popularity, I’m gonna lean on my individuality and inner sense of who I am — better to trust that than people’s constantly changing and fickle opinions.”