This one hit me like a rock. Cathy Jean is far from unknown to my ears so you would think that her confessional and confrontational rock chic – and I mean that in the nicest possible way – persona would have no more than a muted effect on me by now. However, and I should have suspected something given the striking cover art, she really let rip this time with "In The Remains" being not so much an album as the sonic equivalent of a hand grenade.
Whilst "In The Remains" could be seen as a précis of her recent musical career, it is nonetheless very focused and consistent. It is a rock album, of course, but Lita Ford wouldn't go anywhere near as far as Cathy Jean has here. The impact isn't in the guitars or the drums. It is in her voice. Her words drip alternately with acid, love, pain, indifference and contempt in the way of a proper soul singer. She's telling it like it is and even a guy can get that this time around.
In musical terms, there is nothing to complain about. The supporting players do a solid job of providing the foundation for the car crash sentimentality that Cathy Jean possesses with Keith Stafford's guitar easily justifying its place in the spotlight. Of course, if this were a relentless attack on the ears then a fair amount of impact would be lost so it is all the more noticeable that it is the subtler moments such as were found in "King Civilian" that work best. Having said that, there is something for everyone here as the good old fashioned r&b of "You Shuffle" proves.
The important thing to remember though is that this is not a trivial album. It is hard work to shock anyone these days. Ask Lady Gaga if you don't believe me. Likewise, wearing your heart on your sleeve and reflecting on the pain inflicting inadequacies of your "better half" is hardly earth shattering. The difference here is the sincerity and you can take every word sung here as having been written in Cathy Jean's own blood.
Available from CD Baby, Amazon and the usual download suspects.
Album of the Month (July 2011)