by Alex Greene
When someone has suffered violence simply for being who they are, there's an urgency to the lyrics “Kinda tried to hide it, but I never denied it.” Cait Brennan sings these words, and everything else on her new album, Third, as if her life depended on it. Not that she can't reveal a light touch, as when she sings, “he knows too much, I think we'll have to kill him.” If the latter is built on a bedrock of T. Rex hand claps and chugging electric guitars, mixing the lighthearted with the murderous, that just comes with the territory in Trans Glam Soul. You can hear it for yourself Tuesday night at Bar DKDC.
Forget the “trans” for a minute, though, unless you mean that her music transcends such labels. A heady stew of early 70's influences, Third avoids sounding retro or dated because Brennan's musical heroes were known for their inventiveness, and that too is the chief quality of her songs. Yes, there is an element of comfort food to the lush E.L.O.-like harmonies, but mixed with a perfect Marc Bolan-esque guitar, and Brennan's sharp lyrics, it becomes its own creature entirely. Whatever you call the music, it's brimming over with soul.
There are overt nods to that genre on the new record as well, especially in “Stack Overflow”, which blends a classic STAX stomp and testifying vocals with edgy synth-noise breakdowns. Due to Brennan's chance meeting with Jody Stephens last year, the album has a lot of Memphis in it. It was tracked and mixed at Ardent Studios, with much of its vintage equipment coloring the sound, including Chris Bell's Gibson 330 and the Mellotron heard on classic Big Star tracks. Another number was co-written with local songwriting luminary Van Duren, and New Orleans transplant Robert Maché guests on guitar. And throughout the record, Brennan's musical partner and co-producer Fernando Perdomo adds his multi-instrumental talents.
After starting to perform decades ago – about the time she came out as transgender – Brennan took an extended hiatus due to the violent ostracism she faced. She emerged onstage again in 2012, and last year's debut, Debutante, made many best-of lists in the music press. Her powerful voice and well-crafted songs turned heads, and this year's release will surely cinch her reputation as a creator of timeless records.
Expect cameos from the local talents who contributed to the record at tomorrow's show, including Van Duren, Vicki Loveland, Adam Hill, Candace Maché, and Jody Stephens. Starts at 9:00 p.m. at Bar DKDC.