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The Nameless

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Album Review

Described as one of Ireland's finest singer/songwriters, Meteor Music Award winner and Choice Music Prize nominee Cathy Davey faced something of an unexpected setback when she, alongside most of her other labelmates, was dropped in a mass roster cull by EMI back in 2008. Having temporarily relocated to the small town of Albi in Toulouse to record her third studio album, The Nameless, the Dublin chanteuse appears to have used her newfound freedom to her advantage. Free from the interference that plagued her disowned debut Something Ilk, her early, spiky indie pop leanings have been all but abandoned, as have the electronic flourishes of sophomore Tales of Silversleeve, in favor of a stripped-back and organic folk sound which serves as the perfect foil for her delicate, elfin-like vocals and poetic lyrics. Inspired by the ambience of the old, quiet French apartment she rented while writing, and the emotional backstory of its owner, a widow, many of its 13 tracks focus on the themes of loss and despair, backed by equally mournful arrangements from the likes of Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, Sneaker Pimps' Liam Howe, and Villagers' Conor O'Brien. The title track's fusion of softly plucked mandolins, harpsichords, and closing Spaghetti Western vibes is a suitably brooding start to proceedings, its ghostly atmospherics also prevalent on the likes of "Army of Tears," a tetchy slice of tango full of doom-laden strings and strident military rhythms, the menacing basslines of the Nick Cave-esque gothic ballad "Wild Rum," and the shuffling minimal jazz of swooning torch song "Bad Weather." But counterbalancing its melancholic nature, Davey also occasionally lightens the mood, as on the potential kids TV theme "Happy Slapping," a curious blend of Hawaiian folk, cheery whistling, and Fisher Price electronica, the equally childlike "Dog," a playful piece of infectious kitsch pop, and the retro girl group soul of "Little Red," while the closing trio of "Lay Your Hand," "Universal Tipping," and "End of the End" are all gorgeously epic orchestral ballads which serve as a much-needed catharsis for everything that's gone before. Despite its rather solemn subject matter, The Nameless is far from a depressing listen, Davey's enchantingly quirky vocals and eclectic left-field tendencies ensuring that it never drifts into wrist-slitting territory, while in the process confirming that her record company dumping has undoubtedly been a blessing in disguise. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Could this be Cathy's breakthrough?

This is an absolutely fantastic album by an artist that is criminally underrated by most. Cathy's ability to write quirky, addictive songs filled with gorgeous melodies, more hooks than a Peter Pan convention and delightful lyrics really does put her in the premier league of singer/songwriters. The Nameless' title track is a beautiful song that could be the best Bond theme that never was; Happy Slapping shows that Cathy isn't afraid of trying new directions and it pays off wonderfully. Little Red, Dog and Army of Tears are also standout tracks but the whole album shines as a work that - if there is any justice - should give Cathy the success she deserves.

Exciting, adventurous, epic

I don't buy much music nowadays, but having been introduced to Cathy's last album, Tales of Silversleeve, I had little hesitation coughing up for this latest creation.

Creation seems an appropriate way to describe this collection as, like her last album, it oozes talent. Cathy is so much more than just a good find yourself listening to the words, being struck by the imaginative twists and turns, and truly satisfied by the harmonic resolutions. Add to that the catchy tunes and you have here a fantastic album.

Something that struck me, and anyone else who has heard Cathy's other work, is how much her creations have evolved and matured on this album. They've grown from being thrilling short stories to cinematic masterpieces at times. Sounds a bit much I know, but how many other artists could have such a wide range of styles on one album, from the edgy experimental 'Happy Slapping' to the epic 'Bad Weather'?

If you enjoyed any of Cathy's other work you shouldn't hesitate in getting this. If you've not heard any of her stuff before then this and her previous album, Tales of Silversleeve, are essential listening.


Born: 1979 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Rarely anything but unorthodox, Dubliner Cathy Davey's musical development has been almost as atypical as her listening habits. Having initiated a major-label bidding war before she'd ever performed live, Davey took her time assembling a group of musicians who would not only realize her own ideas, but add their own influences to her bare-bones alternative pop. In her spare time, she admits she prefers not to listen to music, instead taking pleasure in reading, drawing, and watching television. Suffice...
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The Nameless, Cathy Davey
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Customer Ratings