Katherine Priddy “The Pendulum Swing”

Cooking Vinyl, 2024

Early contender for album of the year from Katherine Priddy features excellent songwriting, ethereal vocals and finely crafted arrangements with a nod to the recordings of Nick Drake.

artwork for Katherine Priddy album "The Pendulum Swing"‘The Pendulum Swing’, Katherine Priddy’s follow up album to her 2021 debut ‘The Eternal Rocks Beneath’, amply demonstrates why Richard Thompson and Guy Garvey, among other illustrious artists, have been singing her praises. On the all original compositions – ten songs, and short instrumental opening and closing tracks–Priddy seamlessly blends traditional and contemporary voicings, her soft and gentle vocals at once calming and affecting.

Priddy recently featured on the double album  The Endless Coloured Ways: the Songs of Nick Drake’, with her rendition of ‘I Think They’re Leaving Me Behind’ a must-listen from the collection, and Nick Drake is certainly an influence on her new release, with arrangements often centred around acoustic guitar and strings, and indeed the album is bookended with instrumentals, in the manner of Drake’s ‘Bryter Layter’, albeit in the form of moody synth and found sounds, from Simon J Weaver, also credited with electric guitar, bass, drums and percussion. Album opener ‘Returning’ features footsteps and the clink of glasses, and distant voices, over keys and synth, while eerie closing track ‘Leaving’ has a closing door as its farewell to the album.

Priddy plays acoustic and electric guitar, with credits to George Boomsma on backing vocals and acoustic guitar, Harry Fausing Smith on violin and viola, Polly Virr on cello, John Smith on lead guitar, and Marcus Hamblett on double bass and brass. Boomsma features in a delightful duet with Priddy on ‘Ready to Go’, credited as a co-write with her, a moving reflection on love and mortality in waltz time, with the feel of a Celtic ballad, the duo singing Won’t you hold me as we take the chance/ To have one last dance here together?/ And the seeds that we planted will grow/ It’s my time to leave and I’m ready to go” with family members Jack and John Priddy credited with backing vocals with Kerry Morgan, Simon J Weaver, Marcus Hamblett and John Smith. Old tape recordings of Priddy’s family are also sampled on several tracks, adding to the nostalgic feel.

Priddy has described the themes of her latest songs as home, family and love, and ‘First House on the Left’ has a charming nostalgic lilt to it, inspired by the house which she grew up in, and in her words “and all the memories captured within those four walls – both for me and for all the other inhabitants who’ve lived there over the centuries. It might just be another terraced cottage to passersby, but to those who’ve called it home, it’s everything”.

‘These Words of Mine’ features atmospheric slide guitar from Smith, and Priddy’s take on a classic love ballad theme: At night I try my best to climb the walls that you’ve been building/ It’s hard to know where to start/ Would it be so hard to say three words before you go?/ ‘Cause I just need to know/ That you’re not going to go and break my heart”.

A contrasting note is struck by ‘Does She Hold You like I Did’, up-tempo with mariachi-style trumpet giving a Latin flavour, but throughout the album it’s Priddy’s dreamy vocals that give the collection its special character, with hints of Kathryn Williams and Laura Marling, but distinctly her own. Subtle double-tracking/delay is used effectively on her vocals to add depth for emphasis on choruses and refrains, as on ‘Northern Sunrise’, a sprightly mid-tempo song, with Priddy returning to love as its theme, her lyrics powerfully descriptive while still conversational: Stinking of woodsmoke, rum and wildflowers/ Was it the sun or the moonshine it drove us to dance there for hours/ Reeling from nettles and ale that you stole from the bar/ Your voice made me enter, your skin made me stay/ We move like the water, two currents merged, meeting halfway/ Lost my defences somewhere in the back of a car”.

An early contender for album of the year, with Priddy demonstrating her growing prowess as vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter.


About David Jarman 111 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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