reviewed by Anna Alger
A collection of sometimes haunting, oftentimes just plain gorgeous songs comprise Kathryn Calder’s self-titled album, indicative of her maturation and progression as a songwriter. The New Pornographers member uses her solo work as a contemplative outlet, evident in the calm that flows through these tracks.
The album begins with “Slow Burning,” Calder’s clear vocals leading the listener into the song, the lyrics immediately outlining a mission statement of sorts. Harmonies provide the track with a gentle quality. “Beach” is understated, minimal percussion and clarinet accenting Calder’s voice. The song almost feels like a hymn. The tempo picks up in “Take A Little Time,” featuring strong synth and chunky guitar. Great instrumental strength backs up Calder, as she sings, “I’ll forgive you.”
“Blue Skies” is atmospheric, light strings carrying the piece through its chorus. The guitar during the verses is mournful and slow, matched by Calder’s lyrics. A fingerpicked bridge provides further introspection, as Calder sings, “Quietly just dragging my heart, quietly just dragging my heart around.” A previously unheard level of darkness is in “When You See My Blood,” which builds to an electrified refrain towards its end. A steady rhythm introduces “My Armour,” synths floating atop the looping bassline. Almost mathematical guitar lines play underneath Calder’s high, soft melody. Coming back to the gradual pace of the beginning of the album, “Song In Cm” is stripped back, with only quiet guitar and few other instrumental flourishes taking attention away from Calder’s vocal.
Kathryn Calder creates an ethereal sound on her self-titled album, not without its moments of true power. Her lyrics are revealing and honest, and combine with her music in a natural, evocative way. This album is a skillful reflection that can be received broadly so as to feel relatable for a variety of listeners.
Kathryn Calder is available now via File Under: Music.
Top Track: “My Armour”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)