One of the standout features of Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Riley Catherall’s debut album is that it is the sound of an artist in consummate control of his craft.
Born and raised in Yass Valley (NSW), Catherall’s story includes tenures playing jazz and blues before he attended the CMAA Academy of Country Music and received invaluable writing experience with some of the industry’s best. When I Go has a clear streak of country running through it but it also has a folk patina – of the wistful, reflective kind. It’s a blend that sounds like Neil Finn, Jason Isbell and Elliott Smith workshopping songs in Laurel Canyon.
Most songs are mid-tempo yet they rarely dissipate into the soft strumming void that many fall prey to. Catherall’s gentle musical approach might initially distract from the depth of reflective writing and poignancy in his lyrics – most of which are self-questioning or dissections of affairs of the heart, yet dig deeper and he’s guilty of many a cutting and memorable turn of phrase, particularly on ‘Germany’. Elsewhere, ’Leave Me Out To Dry’ has a heavenly chorus with a magic chord change, ‘No One’s Saint’ is a shimmering ballad laid bare, like the best of Wilco, while ‘Vacant Lot’, straightens up into a gently shuffling rock beat and some wonderful electric guitar tones. A quietly achieving and impressive debut album.