Catherine McGrath
Talk of This Town


2.7
average

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 29th, 2018 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You take my ears and drag me head first, fearless

Sometimes, it’s best to leave obvious stylistic comparisons behind and give an artist her due. Music is ever-evolving, and there is always bound to be overlap, especially between those within the same genre. This, however, is not one of those times. If you’ve ever listened to pre-pop Taylor Swift, then you’ve heard in some form or another everything that Catherine McGrath brings to the table. The Irish country-pop songwriter is full of Fearless-era Swiftisms, strumming her acoustic guitar while singing in a soothing but rangeless voice that captures everything that it means to be a sixteen year old girl. I guess, anyway…I wouldn’t know.

I shouldn’t be so critical. Originality is long dead in both country and pop, and especially in groomed-for-radio country pop. Also, if you’re going to emulate a figure in pop-culture, who better than Taylor Swift? The woman has the world at her knees, is wealthy beyond imagination, and has maintained a relatively clean image that promotes self-respect and integrity. In these regards, the near flawless imitation that McGrath does could be viewed as both a positive and a negative trait.

McGrath’s debut, Talk of This Town, is essentially Fearless’ younger sibling. It does everything it can to watch, learn, and repeat what it hears – an analogy that makes all too much sense considering that McGrath was introduced to country music by Swift’s ‘Love Story.’ The opening title track possesses shades of ‘You Belong With Me’ (“Always the one left out / Just the girl at the back”) along with the defiant attitude of ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ (“So I'll keep walking, you'll keep talking / I'll move on and still be the talk of this town”), and despite the frustrating deja vu, the super infectious chorus tidies everything up in a way that somehow makes it okay. When McGrath sings “and you are the edges” on the ensuing track, the vocal inflection sounds suspiciously similar to when Swift sings “and we’ll sing hallelujah” on ‘Change.’ Again, though, the song flows effortlessly and possesses an endearing simplicity, something that can be easily enjoyed provided you’re able to quiet the voices in your head reminding you where you’ve heard it before.

The strongest moment on Talk of This Town comes on the final track, which in spite of fitting into the stereotypical piano ballad closer mold, illustrates the most potential and room for growth. McGrath belts out some gorgeous verses here, hitting notes that aren’t even aimed for during all of the collective preceding moments, atop swelling strings and delicate classical piano notes. It’s still pretty standard fare, but for the first time McGrath sounds in-the-moment – even consumed by it at times (“You took every piece of me you could) – rather than trying to reimagine her favorite clips from Fearless or Speak Now. It’s proof that McGrath can have her own voice, and connect with listeners using her own experiences, by only slightly adjusting the formula. It’s something she’ll need to do if she ever wants to escape the inevitable Swift comparisons and get closer to someone like a Kacey Musgraves – which at this point in their respective careers marks a loftier benchmark.

McGrath has a lot of talent, but it’s not being put to its best use here. On Talk of This Town, her vocal style, overall mannerisms, and even the way she pens love-struck, fantastical lyrics about glass slippers/fairytale romances will never get her pointed on a trajectory higher than Swift’s cover band. There’s a lot about this album that feels like the producer/label trying desperately to cling to 2008, and recreate the sort of frenzy that has followed Swift around her entire life. The thing is, nobody needs to go on that ride again. It was fun back then (to some), but McGrath has to blaze her own trail. Talk of This Town will succeed in getting Catherine’s name out there, and will probably place her on the radar of thousands of country-pop fans looking for catchy new tunes. McGrath has potential, but right now her music is very surface-level; a one-time nostalgia trip for those who want a return to Swift’s country heyday.




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user ratings (4)
Chart.
2.9
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
July 29th 2018


28735 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

The worst part is that I still love this.

Digging: Exit North - Book of Romance and Dust

Chambered79
July 29th 2018


150 Comments


Great read

foxblood
July 29th 2018


9480 Comments


fuck it I'll try this out

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2018


9191 Comments


read the summary in an Irish accent.. drag meeeee head down..

Digging: Sonny Sharrock - Black Woman

DoofDoof
July 29th 2018


1381 Comments


Face of McGrath and the body of Otep and I’m set

{bookmark}

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
July 29th 2018


9191 Comments


Doof old boy, that dig makes me happy..

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 29th 2018


28735 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

"Face of McGrath and the body of Otep and I’m set"

That might be great for you but can you imagine how bad the music would be

budgie
July 29th 2018


6265 Comments


that's funny, i listened to that lost in the middle track, and it sounds like i've heard it a million times before
voice is nice anyway

foxblood
July 30th 2018


9480 Comments


nice voice but yeah it's super generic and sounds like a million other things. not bad but not particularly standing out from the crowd either.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 30th 2018


28735 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Exactly. She's got a nice voice and has potential, but the songwriting is a blend of very popular styles that have already recently been done. Personally I'll still enjoy this, but it's not really that new or great musically.

Dewinged
July 30th 2018


13082 Comments


The title of the album along with the cover is just a straight nope for me. Great write-up as always Sowing.

Digging: Kaelan Mikla - Not Eftir Not

DoofDoof
July 30th 2018


1381 Comments


Cheers butch, my most recent 5 no less :D

conesmoke
August 1st 2018


5906 Comments


"full of Fearless-era Swiftisms, strumming her acoustic guitar while singing in a soothing but rangeless voice"

Well done sir. Gave me a laugh on the work shitter. Tips hat

WretchedCacophony
August 2nd 2018


917 Comments


"captures everything that it means to be a sixteen year old girl. I guess, anyway…I wouldn’t know."

Wow Sowing isnt a 16 year old girl? 15?

Storm In A Teacup
August 2nd 2018


25009 Comments


Sowing is an alien robot 19 years of age married with 5 children

mvdu
August 3rd 2018


762 Comments


I usually give things I have a soft spot for at least a 3. I will try this out at least. Thanks for the review.

BlackMalachite
August 3rd 2018


3711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is an adorable album; one of the biggest surprises I've had this year. Thanks sowing.

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 5th 2018


28735 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

oh wow someone actually liked this



adorable is an accurate description; I actually quite enjoy it on a surface level but I'm also aware that it's ear candy with zero substance

BlackMalachite
August 8th 2018


3711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh yeah; it's a Taylor Swift - Fearless knock off but it has so much charm to it that I can easily forgive it being vapid cutesy nonsense.

foxblood
August 8th 2018


9480 Comments


I want to like it but it's too boring. that's mostly the production side of it though, her voice is cute enough



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