Review | Cat Martino

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Cat Martino @ The Betsey Trotwood

Somewhere in between the DIY vocal loops and soundscape–swoops it dawns on the girls are that we are at a very good gig indeed. New York one-woman melody maker Cat Martino is hopping on and off effects pedals, while singing and playing an electronic piano. She’s taking a break from touring as the opening act for Marissa Nadler’s current tour to perform solo in the basement of the Betsey Trotwood. Anyone who saw Cat Martino as one of the singer-dancers on Sufjan Stevens’ Age of Adz tour will be prepared for her luxurious vocal range. Less prepared, perhaps, to realise that, bizarrely, magically, all that sound really is coming from one woman onstage alone.

The basement room at the Betsey is essentially a beer cellar, with little alcoves for secret assignations. Trains rumble underground at frequent intervals. Stories could begin here. Cat Martino layers loops of her own voice, her handclaps, her whispers and body slaps underneath and over the top of the stories she tells in her songs. In ‘Tangerine Dream’ she yearns for a moment of perfection. In title track of her next record, ‘Yr Not Alone’, she builds the tension of the repeated eponymous lyric to a crescendo – the lyric stays all through the next day.

With understated style reminiscent of Au Revoir Simone, Cat Martino reaches for ethereal, spiked with rooted earthiness. Her songs are inspired by the ocean and… her 80 year old, dressing gown attired, landlord. She takes the femme quirk of Bat For Lashes and subverts it with the laconic charm of Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Moon River’: resulting in a warm edginess. The feeling is that of spying something wonderful and unexpected on the horizon as you watch the sun come up from a Brooklyn rooftop.

Cat ends her set with a cover of The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’, in which she is her own backing band. The loops leave us reeling. Just as the girls are find our feet Cat brings the song to its abrupt end, and we are all at sea again. But it’s okay, we’re okay, you’re okay, you’re not alone.

Cat Martino opens for Marissa Nadler ,on her current European tour, and her next single ‘Yr Not Alone’ (featuring Sufjan Stevens) will soon be available to buy from bandcamp, and can be streamed on soundcloud.

Did you catch Cat Martino live? What do you think to her musical melange?

Arike Oke

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