Catherine McGrath is a young country singer from Northern Ireland, now based in London. I first came across her at this year’s Latitude. She was first on the Alcove stage at 2pm on the Friday. I liked what the blurb said about her Kacey Musgrave influences. She got a decent crowd, and her songs went down really well. The Kacey analogy was definitely accurate – but it wasn’t derivative – her songs, which she introduced amusingly, are personal, rooted in Northern Ireland and London, not America. At the Alcove I was struck by the melodies – familiar but really engaging, and Catherine’s beautiful voice. Dare I say it again? It had that celtic soul.
So, naturally, I went on to Spotify and listened to her two EPs – “One” and most recently, “Starting from Now”. Nine songs in all, and every one of them a winner. No boundaries being broken, but just good, uplifting country tunes with a real pop sensibility. Songs about either falling in or out of love, or just chancing it, on the basis that it might be the one. It’s a bit hard to pick out a favourite, as I like them all. But here’s a video of the opener from “One”, “Hell Would Have to Freeze Over”.
I mentioned the pop sensibility. Catherine’s singing isn’t pure country – there is clearly some of that inflection that you hear in many of the big pop/dance hits at the moment. She’s of the same generation, so that’s no surprise. In fact, I was musing that if some of these songs had a dance beat, with that crescendo that comes with the most of the choruses, they would be real hit material. Might be a bit harder, coming from the country angle. Then again, it’s how Taylor Swift started…
My guess is that when any big music producers get hold of her, Catherine may well end up making shinier, poppier records – with the same great tunes, but a different sheen. That might lose me, but gain rather more listeners! So I’ll enjoy the music while I can, and file it with Kacey Musgraves and the best of all, Lindi Ortega.
Take a listen to the two EPs on Spotify. “One” and “Starting from Now”. You never know, you might like them!