Catherine McGrath: Talk Of This Town

review mcgrath x1 cong

We’ve got nothing bad to say about this but we feel we should make some effort to be critical: “Catherine McGrath pulls the wings off flies” or “Catherine McGrath would eat your last Rolo” perhaps.

McGrath is from Northern Ireland, learned guitar from her grannie and performing from watching her parents play on stage. She’ll be playing on much bigger stages than they ever did, that’s for sure.

Musically, it’s slick commercial country pop; if you accept the limitations of the genre she’s in, it’s almost flawless, the only fault being some suggestion of Autotunes (Wild, on the higher notes for example). It’ll sound great — and doubtless does — on US country radio and she’ll be massive.

Although she gets writing credits on every song she’s drafted in some help from Jeffrey Steele (Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes) and Jimmy Robbins (Dan + Shay, Keith Urban) to fellow Irishman Iain Archer, once a member of Snow Patrol (co-wrote Run, and Two Fingers by Jake Bugg). The Archer/McGrath Dodged A Bullet is one of the better songs.

It’s all very shiny and uplifting, stories of guys and gals following their dreams, falling in love and then saying goodbye. There are too many writers for this to be in any way autobiographical: when she sings: “Then I turned 18 / Said ‘I’m gonna sing / Packed my bags and they laughed / Said ‘She’ll never be anything”, it doesn’t match her Wikipedia page, which says she left at 19 to work for a company that scouts talent, signed with Warner Bros and moved to Nashville. We’re pretty sure no-one ever questioned her ability to succeed, ever.

It’s all good: standout is perhaps Lost In The Middle where she sings about country music itself, “I get lost in the middle of a country song / And they’re singing ‘bout the guy with the blue ripped jean”: a clever song, commenting on classic country songs by itself being a classic country song (Mr Steele is a co-writer). Dodged A Bullet is also good.

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