James Yorkston: I Was A Cat From A Book
The first noticeable thing about Yorkston’s seventh album is that his vocals are very quiet. Quiet to match the jazz drum scrapping, ethereal piano work, and other muted instrumentation. Yorkston even falls dangerously close to easy listening; his voice is pleasant and warm, the music isn’t alarming, and there’s a possibility of sleep inducement.
Yorkston replicates an early decade soft folk, similar to that of Cat Stevens, but doesn’t do anything innovative with it. “This Line Says” has the elements of classical acoustic guitar, sweeping orchestral movements (here is promise for something, something big and dark and raunchy that the song would need to have more impact coupled with the lines “And this line means I love you/And this line is a lie”) and again subdued vocals.
There isn’t a problem with his musicianship. Yorkston is playing to people who listen to Yorkston, and that’s probably a very comfortable subset of people, enough to make this his seventh studio album. He does have a bevy of guest artists on I Was A Cat who bring their own unique voice. “Just As Scared” is another nearly great song with a strong, classy female vocalist. (Check out the round robin toward the end.) It would sound at home in a dark lounge, candles on every table, clientele bopping their head when they aren’t fully engaged in conversation with the person across the table, smoke drifting about, alcohol being consumed, just a place where a cool cat from a Fitzgerald book could really go to unwind from his angst-ridden life.