The Cat Empire
So Many Nights
When I saw The Cat Empire last year, they played some of songs off this new album. Before listening to this CD I wondered how the songs would sound without a sweaty shoulder-to-shoulder crowd around me. I also wondered if the band was going to fully explore a softer side because although their live firepower is breathtaking and a key part of what makes them a solid band, I also know that keeping up that furious pace might be difficult or even self-defeating three times in a row.
It’s the loneliness of the road that makes up the core of their third album So Many Nights which was released back in April. The Australian sextet keeps the funky blend of hip hop scratches, salsa and big band jazz swing as before, but this time around the sonic brush strokes are broader, lusher, and more melodic. The band dives deeper into rivers of pianos and organs, while horn-drenched rhythms push the songs in new directions with gradual dips into the brassy and crooning blasts of trumpeter/vocalist Harry Angus — all of which make the Cat Empire live show epic and mesmerizing.
On So Many Nights Cat Empire uses their jazz roots to explore the loneliness experienced while touring over the last three years. Along with Angus, lead singer Felix Riebl, 25, tells stories of love lost and found, of mystical adventures steeped in metaphors that convey sadness, joy and fear like a seasoned troubadour. Where the rhythms have worked the quirky and whimsical magic before, a softer, gentler, more introspective side of the Empire shows up on the slowly unfolding ballad “No Longer There” where Riebl asks “what would you leave behind when you’re no longer there?” delivering the band’s deepest philosophical lyrics thus far.
Cat Empire fans who’ve followed the band since their Australian jazz club days and previous soul-strutting funk fests might be looking for more knockout soul or funk that built up to more intense crescendos as on previous albums. This is a different and an evolved Empire. Without a doubt the soulful jamming remains; it’s just a more mature, gusty mix of soul, epic ballads, and philosophic metaphors that will take some getting used to.
The Cat Empire: www.thecatempire.com