It’s been four years since Cat Clyde released her stunning sophomore album ‘Hunters Trance‘, but we all know a lot has happened over those 48 months. For the Canadian singer-songwriter, the lockdowns and lack of touring just meant finding other ways to stay busy. She rode out the pandemic by releasing two albums, one in 2020 with the fuzzed-out surf outfit Shitbats, and another with fellow old soul revivalist Jeremie Albino in 2021. All the while writing and collaborating.
Clyde’s brand new album ‘Down Rounder‘ continues her dizzying trajectory from the uncomplicated downhome bluesy folk of her 2015 debut ‘Ivory Castinets‘ and the touches of southern gothic, 60s blue-eyed soul, and torchy numbers on ‘Hunters Trance‘. ‘Down Rounder‘ builds on both with moody and expressive folk and country and adding hints of vintage pop. I love that on each release she stretches out her sound, folding in new influences and weaving them into her quilt of exquisite songwriting.
The album was recorded at the legendary Sound City Studio in LA where the like of Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Johnny Cash have recorded and it was produced by Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Edie Brickell, Aimee Mann, Andrew Bird).
The first thing to notice is the ease with which these songs flow together. Things get started quickly with the jaunty dixie swing of ‘Everywhere I Go‘ followed by the fantastically hooky ‘Papa Took My Totems‘ which marries the moody 60s pop of Bobby Gentry with mid-2000s Brandi Carlile. Clyde’s voice has always been a gorgeous instrument on its own and she is adept at using it to express deep emotion, and comfort all at once. This voice is on display during ‘Not Going Back‘ a lonesome homespun number perfect for a dive bar somewhere on the edge of town and ‘The Gloom‘ a love song to the moon, with its George Jones slow swing. The earworm, ‘Mystic Light‘ and the slow burn of ‘Real Love‘ harken back to the classic three-minute pop of Roy Orbison and Ricky Nelson.
‘I Feel It‘ is a quiet whisper of a track, with Clyde’s voice backed by an echoing piano and haunting cello played by Mia Barcia-Colombo. It is equally brittle and beautiful. The deep emotion of these songs reflects Clyde’s songwriting sophistication but despite the scars and heartbreaks, a positive force flows through the entire album. The Beatlesque ‘Eternity‘ picks up the pace again before the bluesy ‘Hawk in the Tree‘ and the gorgeous high and lonesome ‘Send You Love‘ close out the album.
“There goes my skin shedding again, I keep walking on a path that never ends” Clyde sings on ‘Everywhere I Go‘, an apt narrative of her musical journey that began with ‘Ivory Castinets’. Clyde is clearly a troubadour in the old sense of the word, walking the earth captivated by the universe, and making music. ‘Down Rounder‘ is a record that exists out of time and place, and as the kids say these days: this is a vibe.