Review Summary: Thatched Roof Glass House is a challenging album wrapped up in melody and angst.
Alpha Cat’s “Thatched Roof Glass House” album came across my desk and is now coming out of speakers on the computer. It’s a challenging piece of work. It is wrapped up in melody and angst, and hits the right balance between an artist entertaining us and an artist bearing their soul. The reoccurring themes here seem to be shyness, loss and an inability to relate to what people might term as the normal world. In that respect, the singer/songwriter Elizabeth McCullough shares many traits with those who choose the arts.
Alpha Cat formed her artistic sensibility through the art scene in NYC. She was a photographer, and since NYC is a melting pot, she soon found herself running with musicians as well. Taking a chance, she recorded her first record with producer Fred Smith of Television, and the help of other like-minded musicians. This led to notoriety and airplay and a second record. This is where the story becomes interesting. She planned her release Pearl Harbor for the week of Sept 11, 2001. As you can imagine this did not bode well for the second release and the sounds of bombs and war the record evoked did not capture the public like the first one. These setbacks couples with health issues kept Alpha Cat out of the public eye for some time.
Now on “Thatched Roof Glass House” the Alpha Cat train is back on the track. Especially with the song “Mona Lisa in Comic Book”. Kicking off with the strut and confidence of a woman who knows who she is and what she wants from her songs “Mona Lisa in A Comic” has all the elements of a great radio track. It does not sound like anything I have heard on the radio in a long time. Big strummed guitars and the jagged melody lines provide a complimentary counterpoint. “Reconsider Me” is another gem with cool guitar lines weaving in and out of a fairly simple sounding percussion track. Nice production tricks give the songs a wobbly shimmer that really feeds the story and feel of the tune.
This album is challenging and the epitome of that is in the darkness, such as the track “Every Day You Break My Heart”. This is a cry from the soul and it is reflected in the insistent pounding tribal drums. It is like the lyrics and the music are working together to get the ancient message across. This album on Aquamarine Records is already placing on the folk music charts and is sure to be gaining more airings and fans if the exposure can be kept up. It’s like Alpha Cat is curled up under the sun and looking down from her Thatched Roof smiling a Mona Lisa smile.