Cat Clyde visited New Orleans for the first time this year, yet her sound is all blues/folk, and southern jazz. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Clyde gravitated to artists like Janis Joplin and Leadbelly early on. Her debut album Ivory Castanets is set for release June 9th. It’s an Americana road trip for the ear, with carefully laid tracks showcasing Clyde’s elegant, earthy voice.
“Sheets of Green,” the opening track, is a winding road of a song, setting the scene with its pulsing drumbeat and cyclical lyrics. “Running Water” is a standout early on, careening us into the jazz and scat territory; we’re abruptly off the road, jumping out of a vintage trans am into a darkly lit blues cafe. There’s a delightful amount of tonal variety on the album, the pendulum swinging from the upbeat of “The Man I Love Blues” to the dulcet, let’s-swing-on-the-hammock “Like A Wave,”
The sweet, delicate nature of “Like A Wave” doesn’t hide its true intent. “I’m spinning like the undertow / Taking you way, way down / My thoughts are colossal / I can see they weigh you down,” Cat sings into the darkness. It’s a song for packing up and moving out. The kind of subtle dirge of a person moving on, their heart still stuck in the town they’ve left behind.
“Mama Said” gets to the heart of this road weariness with lyrics bursting with regret: “Mama said / It’s gonna be a flight / We gotta pack our bags and go / Oooh / Mama said / We gotta go right now / I don’t wanna go right now / Oooh.” It conjures images of a teenage girl, lovesick and lonesome, hopping into a car in the early dawn; her eyes keeping a close watch on the rear view mirror.
Lyrically, Clyde is adept at illustrating the landscape, painting a clear portrait of time and space: “Walkin’ Down The Road” is a very literal walk in that regards, with descriptions of cold mornings, old weeping willows, and red wing blackbirds. It’s her ability to craft characters and places, with limited words and straightforward melodies, that makes this album a worthwhile experience. It’s a record best paired with a glass of whiskey and a good book; the sort of music you start humming during a mountain hike or when you’re pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere.
“Any questions you have about life, you can get the answer by taking a walk in the woods.” Ivory Castanets isn’t rooted in hometown culture, but in the natural surroundings of Clyde’s childhood. Emphasis on the wild outdoors keeps the music from slanting toward the disingenuous, rooting it firmly in a tangible love for nature. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Clyde has written one hell of a thank you letter.
Stand Out Tracks: Like A Wave, Mama Said
Release Date: June 2017