Guitarist Kaki King brings her short “Retrospective Tour,” in which she’ll play her first album “Everybody Loves You” in its entirety in the first set, to Washington’s Howard Theatre Monday night, the end of a four-date mini-tour that she launched this week in Boston. She also plays New York and Philadelphia in the coming days before heading to Portugal for more shows.
The 33-year-old music vet, who has six eclectic albums in her canon and was included by Rolling Stone in 2006 on a list of “new guitar gods,” says a full decade into her career felt like the right time to revisit her earliest material.
“I really think I kind of needed to acknowledge it myself that it’s been a decade (since 2003’s “Everybody Loves You”) and it’s really not like saying goodbye to the past so much as it is putting a bookend on it. Going through these old songs has brought me back to all these memories of when I was 20, 21, 22, 23 — it’s made me more aware and grateful and I feel this is a nice way to acknowledge it.”
King says the first half of the show — she’ll be joined by a band in the second half for more recent material — will feature fairly faithful renditions of the “Everybody Loves You” cuts. Some of the songs have been in her set all along while others she hasn’t played since the album was recorded. She says she’s been working this week to “even it all out.”
King has acknowledged, especially when talking about her most recent album (last year’s guitar-based but augmented “Glow”) that despite being relatively happy and content in her personal life — she married wife Jessica last year in New York — the music is sometimes darker than she expected.
“It probably saved my life at times,” she says. “Sometimes it’s not just darkness but maybe just melancholy but whatever it is, I’m lucky I have an outlet for it and I’m happy that it’s music, this outlet for emotional feeling which, of course, sounds like a clichéd response but it’s absolutely true in my life. Thankfully I don’t have to bare the weight of the world.”
She says that’s been true practically her whole life.
“Yeah, sure, it sucks when you’re a gay teen at a Christian school,” she says. “I’m not going to lie, it was horrible. But I knew there wasn’t a lot I could do about it at the time so it kind of expressed itself in a not-very-positive outlook on life but the good news was I was playing in bands and went to shows so that’s the thing I did have. I didn’t have a gay community and I didn’t understand what that looked like as a teen, but I did have a music community that looked like a very different thing and that got me through. I’m a very happy gay person now, but I think in many ways with music, you’re not particularly in control … it’s a very weird thing. I think it controls you more than you control it.”
Road separation, especially being a newlywed, is tough, King admits. She and her wife time their e-mails and Skype sessions around whatever time zone they happen to be in. Jessica is a freelance set decorator for film and TV.
“Thank God for modern communication,” King says. “It makes it bearable but it’s not fun. I think there’s something about when you really love someone, no experience feels complete without them.”