However you feel regarding The New Pornographers and their powerpop tendencies should have no bearing on your opinion of Kathyrn Calder’s debut solo album, Are You My Mother?. With nary a trace of the Pornographers’ signature, crowd-pleasing theatrics, if Mother were any more slight, it would threaten to float away. Not to imply this is a subpar collection of music- Calder offers nothing overtly bad here. But nothing very memorable rises to the surface either. The impact of Mother ultimately falls in line with the voice of Calder herself- sweet, demure, but mostly harmless, and prone to cause random bouts of disinterest.
I felt too comfortable listening to this album. While Calder’s voice reigns paramount, it lacks the edge to propel a solo work. There are some interesting production choices sprinkled throughout the album- such as the uptempo clapping in “If You Only Knew”- but they struggle to find traction in the casual confines of this production. Any substance Calder attempts to create on tracks such as “Slip Away” and “Arrow” is inevitably negated by Mother’s persistent weightlessness. The majority of the time we feel as if we are floating, yet never soaring. A necessary “give and take” for intimate, solo albums is sorely missing here. Calder is appropriately sweet, emotional, and dainty, but also utterly lacking in fragility. Therefore, it is hard for the listener to get invested in her plight- any catharsis the album generates inevitably feels anticlimactic. Many of these drawbacks could possibly be remedied with a healthier production on Calder’s next solo work. That said- the relaxed indifference on Are You My Mother? undermines her immense songwriting talent.
STANDOUT TRACKS INCLUDE: "If You Only Knew", "Arrow"
Kathryn Calder - If You Only Knew by sweetgeorgiabreezes
Kathryn Calder-Arrow by scruffy the yak
- Fr. Jones