The UK has always been a big producer of unique female singer-songwriters. What our ladies have always offered is something with a little more edge; something cooler and quirkier. Take for example Amy Winehouse, Bat For Lashes, FKA Twigs, and the legend that is Ms. Kate Bush. But with a new year comes the arrival of a new queen. Enter Welsh multi-instramentalist Catherine Anne Davies AKA The Anchoress. She has taken the baton, and over the last few months has been producing some of the most interesting pop music around.
So what were the chances that this album wouldn’t work? Well if I told you it was produced by former Mansun front man Paul Draper, would that give you a better idea? The style and ambition that he always added to his former band’s music is well a d truly present all over this album. Never more so than on ‘You & Only You’. Even if he didn’t contribute vocals, his style is laid thick all over this track. Taking those big emotional guitar sounds that made Mansun one of the best bands of the nineties, and creating something totally new.
The album is made up of thirteen uber-stylish indie pop tracks. We’d already had a taste of things to come with early singles ‘One For Sorrow’ and ‘What Goes Around’. The latter is a waltz for the twenty-first century, whilst recent single ‘Popular’ is a bouncy sing-a-long monster of a track. But here’s the good news. The singles aren’t even the best tracks from the album. There’s a lot more to come, and it all unravels as you listen, never quite knowing what is coming next.
Davies has an interesting approach to making pop music. The album never stands still, as it moves from genre to genre. From the shoe-gazing opener ‘Long Year’ to the full on indie sound of ‘You & Only You’ to the bluesy ‘P.S Fuck You ‘. All held together with an instantly recognisable and strong radio voice. There’s a definite twinge of Aimee Mann to her tone, which of course, can only be a good thing. It all draws to a close with her cover of Simple Minds’ ‘Rivers Of Ice’. A stripped back piano/vocal ballad in which she gets to show off her more delicate side.
As a whole ‘Confessions Of A Romance Novelist’ flows really well as a finished album. But any album is only a sum of its parts, and each song works well on its own too. Each and every track could quite easily be a single, and despite this being her debut, almost sounds like a greatest hits collection. The combined sound of an exciting female artist, and the visionary front man of one of the greatest groups of the last twenty years seems to work perfectly.