Catherine Traicos is a great person to interview: smart, interesting, thoughtful and honest. It can be no surprise, therefore, that these qualities find their way into her new album, Brave the Good Heart. On this album Traicos’s singing is accompanied by guitar and not much more. She is essentially standing alone before the listener, asking us to connect with her voice – or not.
One of the things that I find appealing about Traicos is that her voice contains no affectation – there are no curlicues or unusual ways of phrasing that can so often shut out a listener. We always have the sense that Traicos is singing to us direct, so we trust what she tells us. On this album she has been recorded close – not as close as the late Karen Carpenter, whose every swallow could be heard – so that listening to the songs becomes something unusual, almost like it’s a conversation we are in with her, but it isn’t our turn to speak yet. And, like a truly good conversation, it requires careful listening.
Traicos is vulnerable in these songs – she does not resile from things that are difficult and dark. None of them are ‘pretty’ songs – these aren’t radio-friendly pop hits – but Traicos’s voice is constantly alluring. It took me a few listens to get past the sound and into the substance, simply because I wanted to observe how she sings.
This is a quiet album for quiet listening, released in summer but probably best suited to a cosy autumn or winter afternoon, when you’re tucked up inside with time to listen and appreciate. It doesn’t fit into any genre other than ‘singer-songwriter’ and that is just fine – it means that it may take longer for people to find it (given the general fondness for labels) but she’ll be there, waiting to have that conversation.
Brave the Good Dark is out now. You can also find it on Bandcamp.