Cat Montgomery is a multi-disciplined performer. She does theatre, has lovely piano skills and a stunning singing voice. She is the one woman act of Cat and The Queen and considering her skills, she is a more than capable one woman show. She has a great affinity for her Nord II piano which she refers to as though it’s the second member of the act. Her new album is Blizzard on Bear Mountain, a low fi atmospheric album that’s five tracks long. Montgomery wrote the songs during a period of isolation in the woods. The mood is cold and haunting and features a very slow build. Should you choose to listen to this album by the light of a campfire, you’d have to be very comfortable with the dark.
The album rests heavily on the voice work of Montgomery. She has an iconic voice that I can tell has been nurtured by both classic training and raw instinct. Paired with her illuminating lyrics, she has a winning combo. She presents the dignity of being alone and on your own, especially in the darkness.
I couldn’t help but respect and admire the glamour she puts on a situation that usually is marked with pity and fear. While the songs are meant to be dark and moody there is a faint ambient moonlight around them. There is comfort and compassion tucked away in the words.
Musically the album was a bit hit or miss. Montgomery is a talented pianist and when she utilizes these skills she soars. “Ditch Effort” slowly builds to a beautiful piano performance right at the end. “Major Sea” is another example of her fingers going to work. I found that the biggest misstep for this album was a lack of diverse musical layering to build upon the darkness she’s creating and give it a more unique feel. I understand her desire to go bare bones but it does the rest of her work no justice. I couldn’t help but feel there was just a large piece of the music missing at times. There are a lot of piano playing songstresses out there with beautiful voices, and many of them stumble into this issue. Montgomery’s voice ranges from jazzy to modern and more musical elements could have gone a long way in showing that off and making her stand out without steeping out of the low fi arena. The sounds she clung to also sounded a bit dated but that could be due to lack of production.
Speaking of production, there was not much done on the audio end. To be frank, it didn’t need much. Her voice sounded fantastic. I did wish the keys at times had more polish on them only to create a more engulfing experience. It’s safe to say Montgomery is comfortable with her minimalist approach to this album and I think it was all intended.
If you’re looking for music to take you out of your present, Blizzard on Bear Mountain can do the trick. It’s not what I would call feel good music, maybe more like comfort food for the brooding. As an avid brooder, I would say that’s something worth listening to.
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