Written By: J. Byrnes
Listening to Catejane Garside’s fragile, whispering voice and the sad, sparse instrumentation by Chris Whittingham accompanying it on “The Ventriloquist,” makes you feel like you just met a girl who’s been dumped by her boyfriend earlier that evening; it’s 4:30 in the morning and she’s lying next to you in a room illuminated by a flickering, lit candle. She’s telling you her life story in song; including every single failure and let down she experienced in her life, in painstaking, sobbing detail.
The ethereal landscape of steel guitar licks and acoustic strumming on the standout track “Salto Angel” would make Daniel Lanois weep. This is not the kind of music that would get the party started, nor would you expect it from Garside who was better known in the U.S. as the singer of Daisy Chainsaw. It’s haunting and beautiful, and painfully tearful; it would be hard for anyone to come out of this album in a cheerful mood or with a dry eye for that matter. At times, Garside voice tries to break out of the fragile whispers, but it can’t; the
song’s content just won’t allow it: no matter how hard she tries.
Parts of the album remind me of Nick Cave’s tales of the American gothic, and then there are parts like in “John 3:16” or “Happy Now” where you as the listener feel like you are experiencing Catejane’s primal scream therapy. Overall, this is a sad album sung by an even sadder voice; but so real you can feel Ruby Throat’s cold breath breathe upon you begging for help and to be pulled out of her misery.
The duo’s debut album The Ventriloquist was recorded over a year and a half, and has been released as two self-released limited editions since 2007.
“Salto Angel” and “Boat Songs” are must-hears.