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Cathy Davey at Cyprus Avenue, Cork
Davey cuts a shimmering figure on stage, buoyant with rhythmic hand-claps, shakes of tambourines and staccato rhythms.
Mark Keane, 02 Nov 2007
For a performer as demure as Cathy Davey, flicking the fringe out of your eyes could be interpreted as a statement of intent. It takes until the opening bass lick of ‘Mr. Kill’, three songs into the set, before she fixes an unimpeded gaze at the audience, but what follows is a slow-burning and slick dance-rock blow-out, brimming with chutzpah.
This is a volte-face from the artist who has admitted to finding the never-ending touring of her debut release a stifling slog. Now she cuts a shimmering figure on stage, buoyant with rhythmic hand-claps, shakes of tambourines, knocking out staccato rhythms for her opening two numbers ‘No Heart Today’ and the out-of-season summery hit ‘Reuben’. There are echoes of Joni Mitchell circa Hissing Of Summer Lawns – pared down, sophisticated acoustic pop with jazzy inflections, playful ‘oooos and ‘aaahs’, melodies that skip delicately but steadily.
The sense of goodwill in the room is palpable. Not only is it evident in the eager crowd, but also on stage where Davey is joined by, amongst others, Paul Noonan (Bell X1) and Conor O’Brien (ex-The Immediate), musicians who clearly both enjoy and have faith in Davey’s renaissance. It may not have gone exactly to plan when she released her debut, but there is almost a collective will for Davey to succeed this time out with Tales Of Silversleeve.
While she will be new to most, Davey already has plenty in the vault – she will have left a favourable impression on those who came across her debut Something Ilk. This show bolsters its middle third with a selection of gems from that album – ‘Save Button’ sheds its fragile skin and moulds itself into a sultry slice of lounge-pop; ‘Clean And Neat’ rasps with a new-found brio; ‘Swing It’ sashays out of the speakers. Davey’s voice, meanwhile, has abandoned any ‘little girl lost’ intonations, and now possesses a raw, emotive bravura.
There are unfinished chapters in this story. Davey’s canny choice of touring arrangements – this was the second night of a four night ‘residency’ in Cyprus Avenue – has given ample opportunity for those unaware of her talents to come into the fold. If they do, they will find an artist so immediately accessible, they may wonder where she sprang from at all. Those already familiar with Cathy Davey will have seen this moment coming for a while.