Ontario’s Cat Clyde could actually be from anywhere in the U.S., where cowboys roam and horses gallop along. Not that there are many of those places left, but hopefully you’re catching my country drift. Her debut album Ivory Castanets is bright and twangy, with boot-stomping beats. The record opens with “Sheets of Green,” invoking the open landscape with sliding guitars and Clyde’s chanting-singing combo. The earnest vibration of her voice makes it seem like we’ve just put it on in a dark, empty bar, siding up to the jukebox and picking the tunes for the rest of the drinkers.
Many of her songs are named for nature: “Sheets of Green,” “The Meadow,” “Running Water,” and “Like A Wave.” “Like A Wave” is a standout, slowing down the honky-tonk vibe to a bluesy, midnight crooner. You can imagine her on stage with a long cigarette, a curl of smoking drifting toward the dimmed overhead lights. She assures us, no matter what, her lover will be returning to her, “like a wave,” and we should all have that level of confidence in our relationships. Put this on to banish any self-doubt.
Many Americana/country rock n’ rollers have a special relationship with their mamas, and Clyde is no exception. On “Mama Said,” an almost-surf influenced twangy guitar is the backbone of her thinking back on life lessons from Mama. “Mama said you’ve got to change the sky,” she croons, imploring you to change your scenery and attitude. And no bluesy rocker would be complete without a tune about the man she loves. “The Man I Love Blues” is the perfect track, showcasing the range of Clyde’s voice and instead of wallowing, she subverts the expectation and tells us “I keep my head held high.” She’s about to move on, and her man had better shape up or ship out.
The album ends with “Chimes in the Night,” with added piano twinkling through the track, weaving in and out with steadily strum guitar. It’s a much quieter track than the rest of the album, with intimate lyrics about holding a loved one. The final keys sweetly played leaves a deafening silence when the record stops spinning.
Pick up the record from her website.