Kathryn Calder – “Are You My Mother”

The other female voice of the New Pornographers and The Immaculate Machine, Kathryn Calder (who is Carl Newman’s niece) shines beyond her supporting roles with Are You My Mother?, her first solo effort.

Full of catchy hooks and bouncy melodies, in places the record is reminiscent of a stripped-down NP record. A layer of contemplation runs through, perhaps a side effect of juggling commitments to her other bands and recording with caring for her terminally-ill mother, to whom the album is dedicated.

Between the simple syncopation on “If You Only Knew” with its homesick refrain “If you only knew/San Francisco is nice in the summer it’s true/But I’ll be coming home for you” and the heavier drums on “Castor and Pollux” and “A Day Long Past Its Prime” there’s a nice range of sounds.

Friends such as Kurt Dahle and Todd Fancey of The New Pornographers make appearances along with members of Ladyhawk and Frog Eyes. Neko Case contributes harmonies on “So Easily,” a gently lilting ballad.

The single, “Arrow,” driven by Kathryn’s keyboard and sweet voice sticks with the rest of the record as little snippets your brain keeps humming.

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