NEW ALBUM CYRK II OUT NOW
Story by Adam Steel
Densely populated with only a handful of stark compositions, CYRK II—technically an EP, and fitting supplement (not sequel) to CYRK, released earlier this year—is a fine mixture of confessional musings and wistful folk-pop songs that billow their way from the smoky throat of Welsh-native Cate Le Bon. Blessed with a voice—an instrument in and of itself—so richly solid, with a variety of warm intonations that manage to keep each of the record’s five tracks from veering into lullaby territory. On the surface, CYRK II calls to mind the haunting experimentation of St. Vincent’s Actor or Nico’s Desertshore—another smoky songstress with whom Le Bon fields numerous comparisons, though iconic Brits June Tabor, Maddy Prior and Sandy Denny would seem more applicable.
Comparisons aside, Le Bon’s full-bodied vocal textures and poetic tongue serve her well in underscoring the beauty of the bucolic Welsh landscape, a popular topic and one’s whose appreciation is evident on tracks like “Seaside, Lowtide” and “The Eiggy Sea.” Stellar inflections of gauzy guitars on the moody “January” are a particularly nice touch, too.
Having amassed some sizeable street-cred in Wales, performing with the like of Neon Neon and falling under the careful tutelage of Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, the Cardiff-native has expectedly found much acclaim on her own. With the 2009 release of her debut Me Oh My, Le Bon utilized all that that she had learned as an honorary disciple of Welsh rock royalty, proving a singular force to be reckoned with.