Monday, February 9, 2015

Listen: Soft Cat - "Somebody"

Though recommended to me by our mutual friend and their Friends Records labelmate Jeffrey Silverstein of Secret Mountains around the release of the album Lost No Labor, I had failed to actually follow up and listen to Baltimore chamber folk ensemble Soft Cat. I'm not entirely sure why exactly - their setup not unlike that of Portland's Horse Feathers, a group I was more than familiar. It wasn't until I traveled to Baltimore for Portals' Living Spaces traveling showcase last year that I was finally listened to Soft Cat for the first time - through watching them play first at an art fair/farmer's market that afternoon and the later that night at The Crown as part of the showcase.

Seeing them twice in on day really just cemented what a colossal mistake I had made in not seeking them out immediately. But music discovery runs on its own clock and I was lucky to hear several new songs well ahead of their release. Which brings us to today - As Soft Cat are readying their third full length album All Energy Will Rise this Spring, "Somebody", a favorite from both their sets that one day is finally available to listen to over and over again as I can assure you you are sure to.

If you're looking for honest folk music free of cliched tropes and asinine affects, "Somebody" offers that in spades. While the brainchild of songwriter Neil Sanzgiri, Soft Cat never feels simply like a vehicle for his songwriting. There is a very obvious spirit of collaboration that can be heard in just how prevalent the strings are in the arrangements; a dependent part of the actual action instead of merely ornaments. They're a strong constant presence, providing the bedrock while Sanzgiri's vocals rise and dissipate like puffs of smoke in the cold night air. "I still need somebody" Neil sings and they're the clearest lyric in the entire song - right smack dab in the sweet spot of his register. "Somebody" builds off that sense of consistency - the insistent guitar line before the vocals or other instruments even enter. The reoccurring oscillation that's traded from cello to violin and back. And yet even with that familiar repetition, there's still some entirely unpredictable, intangible moments of compositional majesty. Soft Cat isn't the focus for Neil Sanzgiri's lyrics nor the string arrangements but rather everything comes together just so - unquantifiable; ephemeral and fleeting but effortlessly, captivatingly beautiful - Soft Cat's own constant.

Soft Cat's third full length album All Energy Will Rise is out April 7th on Miscreant & Father/Daughter Records.

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