Review: Cat Dowling’s The Believer is dark and dreamy

The Believer is out now

The Believer is out now

You’ve probably heard Cat Dowling’s ‘Come On’ by now; it’s been soundtracking RTE’s trailer for Grey’s Anatomy for quite a while now. And what a song it is. Dark yet hopeful, beginning with the lovely crackle of vinyl, its melody has the power to become lodged in your head for weeks. There’s also the matter of the video; a marvellous animation by Marc Corrigan, depicting a formerly apathetic girl taking matters into her own hands when she discovers the end is nigh.

The former lead singer of Dublin outfit Alphastates, Cat Dowling has embraced both solo music and motherhood. Her debut album The Believer was released earlier this month; it’s a pacey collection of dreamy, lush tracks. The title track is one of the album’s strongest, with an electronica vibe as well as an insistent guitar riff. Previous singles, the moody ‘Cruel’ and the dreamy ‘The Well Runs Dry’ speak of disintegration and renewal.

As she says herself on her website, “I wrote The Believer in the midst of stolen moments during ecstatic, sometimes twisted and often frenetic times. When we don’t have fleeting moments at our fingertips, we snatch what we can with the intensity of a thief.” There is often the feeling of the relentless march of time pulling and threatening throughout the album, wonderfully captured in the opening tracks.

There are echoes of artists like Cat Power and Amanda Palmer throughout, and Dowling embraces Uh Huh Her-era PJ Harvey guitar on ‘Somebody Else’, a song which sets itself out as a statement of independence. “You said your way or the highway,” Dowling sings, “I took my way…”

Indeed, the whole album could be seen as a homage to making your own way in the world. The aforementioned ‘Come On’  pleads in its chorus, “It’s not too late to demand your place, you deserve to take too, don’t let this world break you down.”

The pace slows a little on the second half of the album with more mellow tracks such as the folky ‘Turn’ and the dreamy ‘Hunters’.  “Please press play again,” Dowling demands in ‘Turn’; she hardly needs to ask. The album closes with ‘Sing You To Sleep’, a darkly delicate love song.

It’s refreshing change from artists full of dark, moody self-loathing introspection. Dowling’s music is dark, but it’s independent, and there’s a strength and joie de vivre present in most of the tracks. The album is a worthy addition to the current crop of excellent Irish alternative music. Begging repeated listens, the future is indeed bright for Cat Dowling and Irish indie in general.

The Believer is out now and can be downloaded from Cat Dowling‘s website or from Bandcamp. She will also be playing tracks from the album at Tower Records, Dublin, tomorrow (Saturday June 1) at 2pm.

Keep an eye on The Daily Shift for more about Cat Dowling! 

The Daily Shift’s Roisin Peddle reviews Irish artist Cat Dowling’s debut album, The Believer… 

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