Country-folk singer Cat Clyde discusses “Good Bones,” influences, and her go-to guitar

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1989
       

Cat Clyde is a Canadian born country-folk singer who taught herself to play guitar at the age of fourteen. Her new LP, Good Bones, is comprised of acoustic versions of songs from her first two albums, Ivory Castanets (2017) and Hunters Trance (2019). Influenced by Etta James, Kevin Morby, and Lead Belly, Cat Clyde’s style is reminiscent of Ani DiFranco or an early Jewel.

Good Bones is packed with heartfelt songwriting, velvety vocals, and controlled guitar playing. The opening song, “Mama Said, begins behind a lowly slide guitar lick, and slow rhythm guitar sets the stage for Cat’s smooth vocals echoing throughout the song. The song brings back memories of staring out the kitchen window listening to music on a summer’s day. The lyric, “Mama said, we gotta change the sky, so she won’t have to cry” reminds the listener that the message is much deeper and melancholy.

“Toaster” is the final track on the LP. The rawness in Cat’s guitar shapes the structure of the song. The beginning line, “It’s the end of September and the sun is still shining bright…” sets up the story of traveling, on the road, and just taking things as they come. The idea of lighting your cigarette in the toaster is symbolic of not fretting the small things in life, taking time to figure it all out. This song gives you the feeling that something wonderful is just around the corner. During these uncertain times, this is the best remedy for those in need of hope.

Good Bones is mixed with the variety and passion that matches the times we are in.

Clyde fills us on the inspiration and songwriting process for Good Bones, as well as her musical influences and her “go-to” guitar.

Tell us about your new LP Good Bones and the inspiration behind the music.
I just released my record, Good Bones, and am very excited about having it out and about. I really wanted to have a more stripped-down version of my songs, closer to the years I spent touring solo. My previous two records have more full-band instrumentation, and while I really love them in that form, I think there’s something special about stripping them down to their bare bones. A lot of music that I enjoy is very minimal and raw, and I wanted to capture that side of my songs.

How did you approach the songwriting process?
I like to write, and I like to make time to be open and see what happens. Sometimes you collect bits and put them together later, and sometimes something good will come up altogether. I really just try to be open and see what happens.

Who are your musical influences?
Ah, there is so much that I feel I am influenced by. I really love old blues and folks like Lightning Hopkins, Skip James, Lead Belly, Karen Dalton, and Memphis Minnie. I also feel that I’ve always been drawn to jazz vocalists like Billie Holiday, Etta James, and Cab Calloway.

What’s your “go-to” guitar?
Lately, I’ve been really drawn to my 1950s Harmony tenor guitar. I picked it up in Colorado about a year ago, and I’ve been really loving it and playing it a lot.

About the Reviewer:
Victoria Boyington

Victoria is a singer-songwriter, Women’s Advocate, Special Education Educator, and Non-Profit Founder of California Women’s Music Festival, the only non-profit women’s music festival in California that features an all-womxn staff, crew and line up. She has a Masters Degree in Education, CSU, Stanislaus.

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