She has extra-short, choppy bangs. Her ears are gauged while the bridge of her nose is pierced, along with her septum, where two hoops dangle between her nostrils. From the way she looks, you’d expect to find Cat Clyde on the streets of Williamsburg or South Philadelphia, but instead, you probably won’t be able to find her at all. She’s usually lost in the woods of Canada finding the inspiration for her next album, as she did for her latest release ‘Ivory Castanets.’
‘Ivory Castanets’ is a reality check for a society unable to simplify. We live in a culture buried in social media and binge-watching. The majority of our commercial artists are singing of binge-drinking and casual sex, abandoning the use of actual instruments in the process. Cat Clyde, on the other hand, finds inspiration from nature’s beauty. She articulates this with toothy-guitar licks, boot-stomping banjos, and the sultry belting of her voice. ‘Ivory Castanets’ is loaded with allusions to nature in songs like ‘The Meadow,’ ‘Running Water,’ and ‘Like A Wave.’ The Canadian artist carries her voice from heavy to light, flowing like the waters of her songs. She pays homage to the classic genres of blues and country folk with her own stamp of authenticity.
Her initial single track, ‘Mama Said’ is arguably the most charming of the album. Its rocking melody might be its most accessible, but it’s only a snippet of her range.
Songs like ‘The Man I Loved Blues,’ reiterates fundamental blues shuffles, echoing classics like Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ in its composition, but artists like Etta James in Clyde’s vocal capacities. ‘Move Along’ sounds like a country-campground interpretation of The Beatles ‘Come Together,’ both in vocal delivery and the energizing tempo.
Her most elegant moment is in the closing track, ‘Chimes In the Night.’ It begins with an eery melody, one can only assume produced by an electric piano. This preludes that jarring acoustic guitar that Clyde soars upon. The combination of these elements is the identifier and the selling point, the point of the album where I feel the most intimacy with Clyde before she takes her final leave.
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At first glance, ‘Ivory Castanets’ sounds like a dusty record you might find in your grandpa’s garage, but aren’t those vintage records all the wave? Once you really listen, it’s clear Cat Clyde is onto something, if only she dug deeper to rebrand the sounds of grandpa’s dusty record as her own. Let us not forget about artists like Amy Winehouse, or Adele, whose careers were so successful because they were a fresh medley of modern nostalgia.
Cat Clyde has an unshakeable sense of identity. As a millennial, she has this opportunity to tap into the generation which she belongs, who even though she seems so separate from, together they are thirsty for simpler times. I only hope she can create something that stands alone in this classic genre, despite how alien she may already appear.
‘Ivory Castanets’ is out now via Cinematic