A two-note riff opens ‘The Believer’, the debut solo album from Irish musician Cat Dowling. It is the eponymous track and it quickly and regularly adds more instruments as its ascending melody builds and builds. Not only is it a great song, one of the best on the album, but it also gives a sample of the kind of music that is to follow. It is one of the more rock-based pieces but with the addition of some soulful harmonies it is not confined to that genre alone.
The rest of the album leans more decisively in one direction or the other and while it is arguably the more soulful and considered songs that play to Cat’s musical strengths, the conventional rock stuff sounds good and fits into the album nicely. A song like Somebody Else is straight pop-punk but a kind of creativity comes into play on Come On, a track of the soulful variety where the rock tendency offers a direction for the song to go once the chorus and verse combo have been well exploited. This works well and gives Cat a noticeable musical identity.
Gospel Song is a great and relaxed track in which the vocals and music reach a harmony of mood in a way that feels convincing and confident, a thing one or two of the tracks on the album don’t quite achieve. The song eventually makes use of drums but until it does it has a comfortably loose feel. The drums provide a structure from which the song then drops its chorus so nicely that it feels like catching an apple that has fallen from a tree of its own accord. The end of the song makes use of a heavy amount of instrumentation, especially the strings that pop up throughout the album, but it never quite overpowers the song.
The closer then is the sweet little waltz Sing You To Sleep that is every bit as enjoyable as the opening track but for different reasons. The Believer musically speaking is a declaration of arrival, a grabbing of the collar that leads you into the album, whereas Sing You To Sleep is an ironic declaration of love that feels like a tragic and reluctant farewell. It is a really moving closing track and gives a great sense of balance to the album as a listening experience, and as a listening experience it is very enjoyable.