Sunday, May 1, 2011

Catherine Britt and Joey + Rory

May, 2011: Sophie and I had gone out to Rooty Hill RSL to see Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, but Shane had been sick, so we went along to Notes in Newtown a few weeks later to see him solo. Catherine Britt supported him. I always look forward to seeing supports at country gigs - there's always the slim chance that I'll discover a new singer to love, but failing that, at least I know that the support act won't be too loud, will introduce his or her songs, and won't play for long. That's the formula, and it works for me. Catherine Britt had a great voice, but her lyrics were dull and predictable, and the songs hardly seemed to have any point, or just a shred of a point, carelessly conveyed. Why Shane Nicholson said in his set that she was one of his favourite Australian singer-songwriters, is beyond me. If he was just being polite, he compromised his integrity.
Then suddenly, halfway through her set, Catherine Britt was singing a real song. My attention was caught by the first line, and as each line unfurled, I was impressed with its simple ingenuity (a quality I hold in highest esteem, when it comes to songwriting). "Sweet Emmylou, I blew the dust off you, you're the only one who knows what I'm going through..." Just one listen was all I needed to remember several chunks of the song - this is a sign that a song makes sense. I said to Sophie, "She can't have written that song - it's worlds apart from the rest of her songs." Thanks to Sophie's phone, we discovered that it was a co-write with an American named Rory Feek. A few days later, I downloaded Joey + Rory's album 'The Life Of A Song' with the last of my Telstra Road To Tamworth voucher.
Joey + Rory and I have very different values. I concede that there is some finely-crafted songwriting going on there, but I just can't warm to this sort of hardcore Americanism. Such as the song called 'Cheater Cheater': "Now I'm not one to judge someone that I ain't never met, but to lay your hands on a married man is about as low as a gal can get, and I wish her well as she rots in Hell" is having sex with a married man worse than murdering someone? Is it worse than punching someone in the face? Or is it just the worst thing a gal can do, because gals' actions are so pathetically circumscribed - limited to looking nice (but not slutty) as they wait patiently for their man to return from the rodeo, or the paddock, or wait for him to give up boozing and start coming to church (yes, one of Joey + Rory's women patiently, or perhaps doggedly, "loved the Hell out of" her man)? So they irritate the Hell into me, but listening to this album was certainly the answer to the mystery of how such a top-class song as SWEET EMMYLOU found its way into Catherine Britt's oeuvre.

Catherine Britt's recording:

Two young men doing a sweet, poppy version: