Before I saw her support The Divine Comedy in Bournemouth, I’d never heard of Cathy Davey. Information about her isn’t exactly forthcoming, and even after returning from the concert and searching the internet, I knew precious little more. I liked this, though. I can’t remember the last time I listened to an artist knowing next to nothing about them, and it was great to be able to judge someone on nothing but their music, without media hype or damnation. I loved Davey’s live performance, enough to warrant buying her latest album from the merchandise stall at any rate, and I was pleased to see a number of the songs she played live listed on the CD. I just hoped the arrangements would be the same; nothing but Davey, her electric guitar, and sleigh-bells strapped round her thigh (for knee-tapping percussion, not as some quirky fashion accessory). Sadly, this wasn’t the case. The album can’t be described as over-produced by any means, and Davey herself has done a good job with the production, but, for me, a great deal of charm has been lost due to the additional instrumentation. Davey on stage was magnificent. Davey coming out of my speakers, accompanied by strings, drums, double basses, baking vocals and a partridge in a pear tree, just isn’t as good.
Pickiness aside, Davey is undoubtedly a big, big talent, and deserves wider recognition. The fact that The Nameless doesn’t quite live up to the stage renditions of the songs isn’t necessarily a criticism of her as a recording artist, but praise for her as a live performer.