Somewhere there’s a space for pure artistry, a place where art can exist without someone tracking the clicks or the stream amounts. Perhaps this place lies between woodworking because you can and the mountains, essentially either in California or even in Cumbria. Cate Le Bon has never really fit into a genre, she’s an artist who is ahead of the curve and who seems to have more creativity in one finger than many artists have in their whole bodies. With her latest album Reward out today, the Welsh producer, singer songwriter and composer lets us have a glimpse into her private scope and gives us plenty of artistry to enjoy.
In many ways, the album is being made by a magician who’s not ready to reveal how the tricks are done. At times the isolationist lyrics seep into the music to only take your ears down a path that feels like the words being sung. At others, the songs are bathed in such sunlight that you can never imagine a dark day exists. The opener “Miami” is sparse and contains stabs from the saxophone that could be jarring on modern pop albums, yet they feel like this is where they belong. Le Bon doesn’t mire in the darkness for long, as “Daylight Matters” takes the soft rock path and fills it with orchestrated notes lush in their arrangements that get met with Le Bon’s sad lyrics. Yet here, the sadness doesn’t come into your being.
There’s so many magical moments on the album, that it feels incorrect to place the genre of art pop on these tracks. “Home To You” is a great example of the magic coming from little instrumented pieces that wouldn’t exist on another album. The care taken with how the songs are arranged gets bookmarked with Le Bon’s earnest voice. The way the guitar dances with her vocals on “Here It Comes Again,” the seventies acid jazz structure of “Magnificent Gestures” and the mixture of piano and these intriguing synths that play off of one another on “Meet The Man” all offer little rays of light through the music and not from the lyrics. The juxtaposition of how sad lyrics sound sunny against songs with up sounding lyrics or titles have a more dark tone is part of Le Bon’s charm as a songwriter and as an artist. The ending result is an album that stands alone in a sea of music that feels like too many hands were in the kitchen. With Reward, the only hand that matters is the one singing the songs.
Reward is available to stream on all platforms, it can be purchased digitally in all online music retailers or physically on multiple formats directly from Mexican Summer. Cate Le Bon is on tour tonight in Rouen, France at Rush Festival until November 07 through November 10 in Utrecht, The Netherlands at Le Guess Who? Festival. A complete listing of her upcoming appearances can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Ivana Kickovic.