Cat Clyde’s 3 rd album is a wonder of deeply felt songwriting, a record that finds the Canadian singer-songwriter marveling at what’s around her while considering her own place within it all.
With ten songs on the album, Down Rounder possesses an intimate and personal feel, transporting the listener to the recording studio as she performs these hair-raising tunes with confidence and passion. It’s a strong step forward as a songwriter and musician, as well as an immensely satisfying record for anyone looking to connect the loose threads between themselves and the outside world.
Work on Clyde’s follow-up to 2019’s spellbinding Hunters Trance began in her Quebec home studio in 2020, with plans to self-produce the record with her partner Strummer Jasson, in their cabin residence—recording was unexpectedly halted after an encroaching mold issue upended plans entirely.
“It was difficult,” she recalls, “We were trudging forward, and it all fell apart. It was disappointing.” After moving out and returning back home, Clyde got in touch with producer Tony Berg. As the pair went through the finished material, they stripped back the songs once more, carefully digging into the details of everything. “I really learned a lot and enjoyed the experience,” Clyde recalls. “He gave me a lot of new tools and inspiration to connect more deeply to my songwriting and guitar playing.”
Berg’s schedule lined up with only a week’s notice in Los Angeles’ famed Sound City studios to lay down the entirety of Down Rounder in six days flat. “The musicians he brought in were really in tune with me right away,” she explains. “I feel I’ve really grown in my writing, and after struggling with collaboration in the past it felt good to really create with others while maintaining my own clear vision. I wanted these songs to have a live feel, because it was about capturing a moment to me.” Indeed, the record sounds both lively and lived-in, with Clyde’s malleable singing voice—spanning an appealing twang to a lovely, plaintive croon and anywhere in between – espousing an essential connection between our spiritual center and the natural world that surrounds us. “Connecting with the natural environment around me inspired a lot of these songs, and sonically I feel like this record is very grounded as a result,” Clyde says while talking about the album’s thematic bend. “I wanted these songs to sound raw and rough, but also placed-together in a way that created—a simple beauty, like the changing seasons or a setting sun.”
Keeping that bucolic perspective also drove the decision to include “I Feel It” and “The Gloom,” two songs whose recordings date back to the early Quebec sessions: “I wanted to still have that isolated perspective somewhere in the album, and those recordings still came together within the larger whole, too.”
The result is an album that stands as a crown jewel in a career that already includes millions of monthly streams across multiple platforms and placements on over 40 Spotify editorial playlists.
On the expansive first single “Mystic Light,” Clyde takes on existential matters over chiming bells and an open-hearted melodic structure. “It’s a song about wanting to understand my journey and purpose,” she explains while talking about the song. “I’m exploring feelings of adriftness, asking for the mystery or magic of life to show her face so I can remember what it’s all for.”
Featuring lyrics that address the feeling of overstimulation and being emotionally overwhelmed, the bare and haunting second single “I Feel It” also marks the first time Clyde has played piano on recording. “I felt a bit nervous about playing the piano because I don’t see myself as a very strong player,” she states regarding the decision, “but it felt like it was just what the song needed.” And the driving third single “Papa Took My Totems” finds Clyde reflecting on the ravaging effects of colonialism, the state of the environment, and masculine-dominated society at large. “There’s a lot of sacredness that’s being destroyed in the world, and that’s difficult to deal with sometimes,” she explains. “Totems, to me, feel like places and things that are important and real, to witness the destruction of things like that is devastating”.
Over the breezy sway of the opening track and final single “Everywhere I Go,” Clyde ruminates on “letting go of things no longer needed, while keeping hold of things you hold true.” And Down Rounder indeed sounds like the work of someone who’s found themselves artistically and holistically, while extending a hand to any listener who wants to follow Clyde on her singular and thrilling path. But it’s also represents a bold leap forward for her as an artist, cementing her place on the map as a nourishing and essential voice in today’s musical landscape.