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Catherine Feeny - Soon to be a household name?

Catherine Feeny

Feature by Jack Foley

CATHERINE Feeny is undoubtedly one of the rising stars of 2006. She releases her eagerly anticipated new album Hurricane Glass on June 5, having already impressed as touring support for the likes of Suzanne Vega and Hal.

Originally from Philadelphia but now residing in Norfolk, Catherine signed to Tallgrass Records in November 2005, following rave reviews from live performances at London’s legendary Ronnie Scott’s in September 2004 and her own headline tour across France and Belgium.

Her passion for music was evident early on. She sang as a child, took classical voice lessons and played both the piano and the violin.

But it wasn’t until she started singing in bands as a teenager that the guitar became her instrument of choice.

“I took it up because I could play songs that I loved right away,” she admits. “In fact, I stole my Dad’s guitar when I started playing!”

Influenced by a variety of genres and artists including Joni Mitchell, The Smiths, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth and Sinead O’Connor, Catherine’s musical tastes have clearly encouraged her own creative style.

“I’ve always loved a well-written song,” she comments. “When I’m in the zone, writing is the most satisfying thing in the world. It can be so magical.”

Her first studio LP since 2003’s independently released Catherine Feeny, Hurricane Glass is a deeply introspective album, as the singer-songwriter explains.

“I realised at some point while recording the album that there were a lot of songs about telling the truth. I wrote this album the old school way – locked up in a room with my guitar.

“On the other hand, recording was a wonderfully collaborative process and there were so many discoveries we made along the way.”

Album highlights include the Lucinda Williams-esque title track, Hurricane Glass and the politically weighted Unsteady Ground, as well as Mr Blue with its immaculate pop streak.

“It’s a struggle for me to be honest sometimes because I like to please people, but I think I’m pretty honest with myself,” continues Catherine.

“It’s strange when you encounter people who aren’t – that disconnect inspired Touch Back Down, while Unsteady Ground is about the crap the government and the media were feeding us before we attacked Iraq.

“The title track Hurricane Glass, meanwhile, is about the death that comes before a rebirth.”

Catherine’s sound is already making an impact – the aforementioned Mr Blue will be featured in the new Gwyneth Paltrow/Annette Bening film Running With Scissors, adapted from Augusten Burroughs’ award-winning book of the same name.

The director of the film heard the track on Nic Harcourt’s influential LA morning radio show while driving to the film set, and immediately earmarked it for the soundtrack.

Catherine has a number of live dates lined up in support of the album’s release, including a slot as part of the Wireless Festival line-up in Hyde Park.

Commenting on taking her music live, she added: “Performing live is something I work very hard at. There are many distractions to the little creative voice that whispers in my ear and makes me who I am as an artist, but I enjoy rising to a challenge… it let’s you know you’re alive.”

Read our review of the album