As a music producer and performer, I find myself on occasion in the position of reviewing music, not to tell others how I’ve trumped the life work of an artist by finding some clever phrases by means of trashing it; rather, I get to pick out someone whose work I personally like and recommend them to you.
"Clowns" is very, very good. It's an EP of 7 tracks, produced by Martin Smith, former bassist in the Electric Light Orchestra.
In a female-vocalista landscape currently dominated by "vocal fry" and its unfortunate complementary color, that Britney-esque emulation of a rubber duckie accidentally trod upon, such giving us much to be improperly amused by -- amongst all this, we yet find a real singer in Catherine Kubillus.
Her latest above-referenced release is one to keep on your iPod for any time you want a memorably intimate conversation.
Starting with an attractive set of pipes, an intention to communicate and discipline necessary to anyone serious about killin' dat track, Lady Catherine puts forth the song of the song. It sounds too easy -- she's inside the song, not demonstrating by heroic emesis some bid for prefab histrionics, not relying on symbolistic references to beggar your jaded indulgence. Just singing, to you there. Looks easy, but we know that such ease comes not from attitude, but only from doing one's homework. There's a restraint evoking great power, as someone who actually knows how to ride a motorcycle, rather than just popping wheelies at the drive-in.
There's a lot of horsepower as well to the production. Nick Coler (who’s written for Kylie Minogue, Sugar Babes among others) plays keys on "Tight Pants”. Mastering was by Jon Astley, who produced The Who, Eric Clapton, Deborah Harry, Kate Bush. Three members of the Swing and Jive band The "Jive Aces" play on "Simon Says".
It's very hip and simply done. Like the voice it surrounds, it pulls you into the sound rather than clubbing you negligently over the head. Even with the heavy hitters behind the production, your attention goes where it's supposed to go -- on the voice and story it has to tell. The mixes are well-conceived and spacious, not compressed into a pancake or any of that.
From the killer guitar work on "Too Tight Pants" to the somewhat painful subject matter of "Communication", to the Lee van Cleefe-esque hope-she's-kidding aura of " Shoot You Down", there's a top-notch album here, a crystalline singular thing. It gets better on each listen, makes more and more sense what choices were made.
It's a great visit and you know you'll be back. Only later do you begin to suspect what she's casually and artfully driving at...
Daniel Robinson, Producer, X-Ray Poetz