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The Nameless
Cathey Davey The Nameless
Released 7 May 2010
Producer Cathey Davey
Label Hammer Toe Records
Length 55:32
Genre Folk
Website www.catheydavey.ie

The Nameless is the third album from Irish singer songwriter Cathy Davey. Gone are the fuzzy guitars that featured on her debut album, Something Ilk. Gone too are the danceable beats to be found on songs such as 'Reuben' and 'Moving' from her excellent second album, Tales of Silversleeve. This time Davey has opted for a folkier and more organic sound- The Nameless is an altogether softer, slower and more sombre record than either of her previous ones.

The change in musical style naturally puts her songwriting skills under closer scrutiny than before. Davey passes the test with flying colours- the lyrics are never formulaic, always interesting and often very poetic while the melodies are at times beautiful.

The cover of The Nameless features a picture of Davey in profile set against a plain black background. Davey is dressed in black on the album cover, as if in mourning. The significance of this? As Davey has explained in interviews the album is based on the journey through life of a woman who has lost her partner. The inspiration for this concept came from her surroundings- she wrote much of the album in a small French town called Albi just outside Toulouse, renting an apartment from a lady whose husband had died there. Davey felt an overwhelming feeling of absence in the apartment and found that it was all she could write about.

The tone is set right from the start as the haunting title track of the album opens with the lines "In the days I count the hours and in the night I count the days, When I wake I count the flowers that grow all wild around your grave". The themes of loss and mourning are continued in songs such as 'Army of Tears', 'Habit' and 'The Touch'.

However, the album is not a depressing one. Davey wisely lightens the mood for some of the songs such as the wonderfully catchy lead single, 'Little Red'. Clearly, Davey has not lost the knack of writing a great pop song. Despite its refrain of “we were doomed”, 'Dog', with its playful bass line, primary colour melody and trademark high pitched whoops from Davey, is another example.

'Bad Weather', 'Lay Your Hand' and 'Universe Tipping' are all gorgeous ballads with a tenderness that we have not seen in Davey's music before and they are sung by Davey in a very affecting way. In fact, Davey's voice sounds great throughout the album. Much like Bjork, there is something very lovable and incredibly distinctive about the sound of her voice and it adds character to the songs she sings.

One gets the feeling that, with this album, Davey has discovered her true musical identity. She has already dismissed her debut album as "other people's idea of what I should sound like" in reference to the attempts of her record label at the time to pitch her as an indie rock chick in the PJ Harvey mould. For her second album, Tales of Silversleeve, Davey specifically decided to make music that could be danced to and she wrote about half of the songs on drums instead of piano or guitar in order to achieve it. Silversleeve was unquestionably a great album and deserved all the plaudits it received but the sound adopted on The Nameless seems to me to be a better fit to Davey's voice and songwriting style.

It will be very interesting to see which direction she takes next. Still only in her early thirties, Davey potentially has a long career ahead of her and there is no telling how far she could go. Not yet an internationally acclaimed star, The Nameless could be the album to change that. Even if it doesn't, the prospect of her matching or possibly even bettering The Nameless in the future is a very exciting one.

- Mark Collins