Some of the most beautiful songs are the ones that make you feel like you should hold your breath -- songs that are so delicate and intimate that you’re scared to interrupt their suspended magic. There’s a newer one to add to your collection: "Carrier Pigeon," by Catherine Feeny and Chris Johnedis, off their new self-titled record. Feeny says the song came from her reading The New Jim Crow, about institutional racism in the American prison system. She started thinking about incarceration in both literal and metaphorical ways, and “Carrier Pigeon” -- with its lyrics begging for release from some cage -- was born.
She first wrote the tune as a part of a challenge to write 20 songs in 12 hours, but returned to it months later to adjust the arrangement. The end result is stunning. Feeny hits captivating highs and lows as her voice floats over a steady, sharp ukulele line. Johnedis fills in on percussion, offering scattershot rhythms that bring the song’s underlying restlessness to life. That, Feeny says, just came naturally for Johnedis.
“Chris and I played it together during pre-production for the album, and he started brushing on the snare in this distinctly wing-like fashion -- he is not a lyrics guy, and he did not know I was singing about a bird,” Feeny says. “That is what it’s like playing with him -- magic and intuition in a sweet, humble package."
Catherine Feeny & Chris Johnedis comes out via Fluff and Gravy Records on April 21st.
Portland-based singer/songwriter Catherine Feeny, whose songs are recognized and appreciated to some degree in both underground and popular music, teamed up with multi-instrumentalist and jazz drummer Chris Johnedis to write and record an album. Titled simply after the artists,Catherine Feeny & Chris Johnedis, this eleven-song eponymous debut onFluff & Gravy Records is decidedly something unique and highly worthwhile. Combining Feeny's stunning and tremendously soulful vocals and strong lyrics with minimalist instrumentation including ukulele, drums, looped guitar and glockenspiel, the duo managed to create a quality folk pop and rhythm & blues record that is as moving and enjoyable as it is socially and politically relevant.
"Against You," the album's opener, features sparse instrumentation but fiercely beautiful vocals and direct lyrics. "Girl's Got Pockets" has an almost urban folk and jazzy hip hop vibe, while "Afraid" has more of a dreamy acoustic thing going on. "White Flight," an '70s era R&B style song, is an upbeat offering with a message about a troubling social phenomenon. "I Don't Know If I Am" is so many picked notes over nicely timed percussion, with a steady vocal delivery. From there, the album goes on to reveal a handful of other excellent tracks, like "Carrier Pigeon," "Happy People," and "The Light." But this is the sort of album one needs to experience for oneself in order to truly "get it".
Catherine and Chris crossed paths shortly after she returned from the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, and after he got back from two years of working and studying abroad in Thailand. The two became quick friends and clearly shared a mutual respect for one another as artists. Two years later, Feeny and Johnedis, working with producers Sebastian Rogers (Floetry) and Sheldon Gomberg (Ben Harper, Ricki Lee Jones), laid down the songs for this album in a live four-day session in Silverlake, California.
Before all of that, Feeny grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, a place she finally left for the West Coast, settling for a time in Los Angeles, and then Portland, Oregon, where currently resides. Throughout that time, she released a self-titled album (2003), Hurricane Glass (2007), People in the Hole (2010), and America (2012). Her song "Mr. Blue," from the albumHurricane Glass, was featured in Running With Scissors, The O.C., and Miss Conception. She has also toured internationally, sharing stages with the likes of Wilco, Belle and Sebastian, Suzanne Vega, John Prine, The Indigo Girls, Kelly Jones (The Stereophonics), and Martha Wainwright.
Catherine Feeny & Chris Johnedis will be available April 21st, 2015 from Fluff & Gravy Records. Pre-orders are posted at the label's webstore.
“Harm” is the name of a track from the duo’s forthcoming double full length self titled album, which is awaiting release. While we wait Catherine and John have shared it and three other songs that highlight the R&B minimalism and moody polyrhythms that the album is built on. The EP is full of sounds you know: ukulele, guitar, drums, and voice; but the way they’re used is unfamiliar. Johnedis backs Feeny perfectly here, her voice is as much an instrument as her ukulele, and she uses them to establish the rhythm and melody. She works gently as Joni Mitchell with a Ricki Lee Jones pop sensibility, and Chris accents that nicely, syncopating jazzy drumbeats that react to her rhythms. It’s a strange and powerful sound I can’t wait to hear an album’s worth of. Keep an eye on Fluff & Gravy Records for that full release in April.
What happens when you put together a folk-oriented singer-songwriter with a jazz drummer? You get music that is infectiously listenable and like nothing you’ve heard before. Such is the case with Catherine Feeny and Chris Johnedis, the unlikely Portland, OR-based duo who have used their natural musical chemistry to create something special. Feeny has been making music as a solo artist for over ten years, working with respected songwriters like Joe Purdy and opening shows for major indie groups like Wilco, Belle and Sebastian, Suzanne Vega, John Prine and The Indigo Girls. But working alongside a talented drummer with eclectic tastes like Johnedis has allowed Feeny to take a fresh approach to making music, as can be heard on the duo’s upcoming self-titled debut album, which hits April 21 on Fluff and Gravy Records. Lucky for us, Catherine Feeny and Chris Johnedis are ready to give the world a taste of what they have coming with the release of their 4-song EP, which we are excited to premiere here at Glide Magazine and you can find around the world on February 17. The EP revolves around “Harm”, the first single off the upcoming full-length.
If Catherine Feeny was an explorer, she would wade into crocodile-infested waters and emerge without a scratch. She pulls off a similar feat in pop, venturing into Phil Collins's back catalogue and coming back with a surprisingly stark and intimate version of In the Air Tonight. She then informs the crowd: "No Jacket Required was one of the first albums I bought when I was a kid." No one ridicules her; they just whoop and applaud, which suggests the American singer-songwriter must be doing something right. But then, Feeny's instincts and childlike innocence serve her well. Continued
She's big in Brussels. She's huge in Bruges.
But despite her avid fan base in Belgium, singer-songwriter Catherine Feeny, born in Germantown and raised in Norristown, has had a hard time gaining an earhold in her own country.
That may change with yesterday's release of the soundtrack to the film Running With Scissors. It contains Feeny's haunting song "Mr. Blue," which also will be featured in an episode of Fox's The O.C. CONTINUED
As a whole, Hurricane Glass is one of those albums that soothes the listener into quietude with strummed guitar and mellifluous vocal lines — and only then coils its complications and ambiguities around you. Thus, the line “I won’t bury you in the basement/As I’ve been known to do” soars over the sweetest of backings. You miss it first time; only later do you think: “What did she just say?” Continued