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Album review: Cate Le Bon - 'Oh Me Oh My'

She's a funny lass, but we love her

Don’t let those vintage dresses and heavy false eyelashes fool you. Cate Le Bon is one strange creature. Her odd, beautiful songs burrow like furtive woodland creatures to a safe nest lodged firmly between tradition and individual talent. She might stand clearly in a lineage of Welsh pysch-folk from ’70s acts such as Meic Stevens, Heather Jones and Brân (who she’s covered live) through to ’90s luminaries and sometime collaborators Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Gruff Rhys (Cate was his vocal foil on Neon Neon’s ‘I Lust U’), whose new label she makes her debut on. But if the influence of Rhys’ quirky psychedelia is here, there’s also rough guitars, spectral shanties and, drawing it all together, Le Bon’s cool, Welsh Nico vocal; she’s very much her own thing.

It’s not an album that tries too hard – with songs such as the decadently lush ‘Sad Sad Feet’, with its sleepily, lapping wave rhythm and blissfully lazy refrain of “baby, I’m headed for the black”, it doesn’t need to. The darker corners of its fairytale forest are packed with different moods and tones: ‘Terror Of The Man’ is brittle and witchily heavy, almost Sabbath-y guitar tones and crashing cymbals tamed by Cate’s solemn intonations. The tense feel of ‘Hollow Trees House Hounds’ with chunky guitar and squelching Moog takes things up a gear, while the spare harmonies of ‘It’s Not The End’ take a gentle whirl round Cate’s death fixation, reprised on the ghostly love song of ‘Burn Until The End’ which ends in a Bacchanalian noise freak-out. “The dogs are dead and I’m getting older/I never want to put them in the ground” she pines on ‘Digging Song’. The album was originally titled ‘Pet Deaths’… strange girl, like we said.

Duncan Gillespie

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8 / 10

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