Cate Le Bon is a peculiar, curious sort of character. She’s hard to pin down, or place neatly into a calculated, categorized box. It sounds like a problem, but it really isn’t. Actually, it’s a blessing and somewhat of a rarity. She’s just different. There are gaggles of musicians and bands playing songs to the same tune and marching to the same parade, and it’s a refreshing reminder to hear something contrary to the trend. You can compare and contrast Cate Le Bon, you can pick her apart and whittle her down, distilling her influences and similar sounding significant others–but it would be wrong to do so. Or at the very least, it would be unfair.
Cate Le Bon – “Fold The Cloth”
Le Bon has a shy but brutally honest approach to writing music that’s deceptively simple in its construction, but inherently intricate in its overall design. Representing this design is CYRK (or “circus” in Polish), the artists’s second studio release. The album draws upon her rural upbringing in the hilly countryside of Wales, an element that is commonly interwoven within her music and can also be heard on her first album Me Oh My. Le Bon’s songs in CYPK dive in head first with the punch-drunk amble, such as the song “Falcon Eyed”: an energetic stop-and-go, that walks in and out of a driving, kick-snare strut and a bouncy, poetic lullaby. Le Bon has a playful, melancholic way of articulating herself. “Puts Me to Work,” for example, showcases the dry apathy she carries in her voice as she sings, presumably, about a dragging, laborious relationship. She sings lines about putting work into something, but getting nothing in return.
Magic resonates within Le Bon’s voice as hard consonants fall from her lips so delicately; the track “The Man I Wanted” exemplifies this. CYRK is wholly more experimental than the artist’s debut album. When listening to tracks like “Through the Mill” or “Fold the Cloth,” it’s easy to hear that Le Bon isn’t too timid to push the limit of layers, style and instrumentation in her material. The album closes out with the two-part song, “Ploughing Out.” Part one: a sunny, carefree ballad, spelling out an admiration and love for an unnamed man (“…and on the worst day of his life, he’d still love more things than I like…”). Part one spills into part two, developing into a dissonant mess that’s somehow wrangled together, like a herd of unruly instruments racing toward a unified hush.
CYRK is organic and expressive to its very core, and unwaveringly variant in its creativity. Cate Le Bon is unabashedly and unapologetically herself, which today, is a lot more than many musicians can claim.