Friday, May 14, 2010

Album review - Cathy Davey ' The Nameless'

*We've just heard that this has gone to number one in the Irish charts, congrats to Cathy!

Cathy Davey

‘The Nameless’

(Hammer Toe Records)

THERE IS something astonishing about Cathy Davey’s voice; delicate, quirky, at times vulnerable, always soaring - she is possibly one of the most listenable female vocalists out there in this day and age.

Where debut album Something Ilk was a decent record, Davey was unwillingly pitched as a spiky PJ Harvey, something she was never comfortable with. On the superb follow-up, the Choice nominated Tales of Silversleeve, Cathy revealed her tender side, producing a beautiful album, one that was stirring and emotional as well as featuring some brilliant pop tunes, and which catapulted her to the forefront of the Irish music scene.

That wasn’t enough for EMI seemingly, who dropped her - and much of their roster - in 2008, granting Cathy an independence she probably always craved, but possibly wasn’t ready for. Until now.

The Nameless is a cracker; stuffed full of tunes that will require much digging to get to the bottom of, but an album that sees Davey revel in her strengths and not seeking to conform to an imaginary, stilted mainstream genre.

There is an eery darkness to the album, not the least of which is the mandolin inspired title track, a delicate and moody piece that swells and falls with Davey’s delightful timbre. Likewise the imperious Army of Tears, on which Neil Hannon stops in to help out on backing vocals.

There are some beautiful tunes, such as the emotional Lay Your Hand, smothered as it is in soaring strings, and the gorgeous finale End of the End.

Davey has kept her propensity for pop tunes intact also, as evidenced by the lead single, the folky, soulful Little Red, and the humorous Happy Slapping.

One of the strengths of this album is undoubtedly the pitch-perfect group of musicians that Davey has surrounded herself with, including the peerless Conor J. O’Brien, who no doubt added his own dark intensity to the album. A

ll in all, an astonishing and spine-tingling album that is definitely the best thing Davey has done to date.


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