Caitlin Canty, a singer/songwriter with a soothing voice and a soft touch, could easily be relegated to background music. It’s hard to stand out in a genre where tastefulness is valued above all else.
But upon closer listen, Canty’s songs reveal themselves much as people do: the more time you spend with them, the more they offer up.
The Vermont native, now a Brooklyn transplant, escapes the pitfalls of blandness and cliché with small Nashvillian embellishments and a vast imagination. Her songs are gently melancholy and resolutely non-confessional; one moment she sings from the perspective of an old man, the next in the voice of a new bride, and finally from the point of view of a spirit, gazing upon the world that she left behind in death.
These scenes are not so much the product of fantasy as they are the result of a process rooted in truth. “Every song comes from a little tiny seed of an idea, that uses some interpretation of or experience in my life,” says Canty. “And then it becomes this exercise of following that thought down a path. It moves out of reality and is its own world.”
Her sophomore effort, The Golden Hour, benefits from the same thoroughness that Canty puts into her songwriting. “I’m a big editor. I try a lot of scenarios, I try a lot of grooves, I try a lot of pronouns,” she says.
The album has a sonic depth that matches Canty’s lyrics. Acoustic guitar and Canty’s clear, emotive voice take a front seat, bathed in moody reverb and supported by carefully deployed bass drum, ghostly backing vocals, and the eerie wail of pedal steel guitar.
In October, Canty recorded a new album with the help of Massachusetts-based musician and producer Jeffery Foucault, intended for release in early 2014. And on Tuesday November 19, she performed her very first live-from-home Concert Window show.
Concert Window is a new initiative which allows artists to play concerts directly into their laptops without leaving their houses—or apartments, or tour buses. The concept was particularly attractive to Canty for practical reasons. “Honestly, every live show I’ve ever played, I’m losing money the second I walk out the door,” she explains. “Hopefully you make it back at the end of the night... but that’s not always the case.”
Canty also believes that the remote concert offers, paradoxically, a more intimate experience for audience and performer alike. Instead of sitting quietly and clapping at the prescribed moments, as in-person audiences are apt to do, people are empowered to make requests and remarks without disrupting the show by sending messages through the chat box.
It’s generous of Canty to give Concert Window all the credit. The truth is that this says more about her than it does about the concert format. Even at a distance, she finds a way to connect.