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INTERVIEW: Catherine Britt

A LEAP FOR INDEPENDENCE

Catherine Britt is beginning the exciting next phase of her twenty year career with her new album Home Truths, the first release on her own record label.

by Chris Familton

It’s a strange time in the world when you have to quickly pack up your things, gather your family and hightail it to the QLD border. “We just had to make a last minute decision otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to start the tour, which begins up in QLD.” explains Catherine Britt. Five months earlier she was doing the opposite, enjoying being out on the road, playing to enthusiastic audiences, when it all came to a dramatic halt. “That’s never happened to me before. It was such a strange feeling. We were on the road and everything was great and within a day I had to cancel my whole tour and drive home from QLD.”

Britt was thankfully in a fortuitous position, having just successfully crowdfunded her new album. She quickly pivoted from touring mode into finishing writing for the album and then hit the studio in Newcastle with what she describes as Australia’s best country ‘hot band’, to quote Emmylou Harris. “It was just pure luck with the timing and I was so grateful for it,” she says. “We were able to get the album, photo and video shoots all done in that little window of time and now I’m looking forward to hitting the road and releasing some music,” enthuses Britt.

Home Truths is scheduled for release on January 15th, 2021 and sees Britt returning to more of a commercial country-pop flavoured Americana sound, somewhere between her albums Always Never Enough (2012) and Too Far Gone (2006). She describes it as “straighter country stuff with pedal steel and fiddle – think mid-90s Dixie Chicks!” Lyrically Britt has approached the songs as stories and less purely autobiographical in nature. “I always found that fascinating when I sat down with people like Guy Clark and they’d tell me they’d just listen to people talk and then write down their stories. I wanted to write a whole record that wasn’t all about me. I wanted everyone to be able to see themselves in these songs and not necessarily have to know Catherine Britt.”

The first single from the album has the intriguing name ‘I Am A Country Song’. It’s a song title Britt has had in her back pocket for a few years, inspired by a Nashville friend. “She was my best friend when I moved over there at 17. She’s been married a few times and her husbands were abusive. The third one was an alcoholic and he was out fox hunting and fell off his horse and it rolled on him and he was in a coma and then disabled for a year before he died. We went over there for AmericanaFest, just after it happened, and on the way from the airport I asked her what was new on the radio in Nashville and she said  “Oh girl, I don’t even listen to the radio. I am a country song!” recalls Britt in perfect Nashville twang.

Fast forward to writing the song and Britt found that the phrase applied to so many people she encounters on her travels. “In the outback I meet all these country people who live the country life – hardcore people. I had them in mind when i was writing it. They live country music. They don’t need George Jones to tell them how to live their life.”

In 2020, Britt has also added record label owner to her resume after requesting an amicable release from Lost Highway Records and starting her own independent label, Beverley Hillbilly Records. “I realised my kids weren’t going to own any of my music and reap the benefits of it and that felt wrong,” she explains. “I was thinking about that a lot and I talked to friends where were independent and doing well. I feel a lot more in control and I love the challenge. It’s a lot of work but you reap the rewards. I’ve gone down the path of buying out my publishing and I’m also looking at my back catalogue. I’m learning lots of new things now about running a label and now feels like the right time and I’m ready for it. I’m making the leap!”

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