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I first heard Catherine Howe on my friend Scott’s radio show - (Random Rules, Mondays at 6pm on WRFR). Not only did I love the song but I also loved his story of hearing the album for the first time. I’ll let him tell it :
Spotify told me in their spooky year-end algorithmic recap that I listened to Catherine Howe’s What a Beautiful Place more than anything else in 2020. And it might have been because I didn’t have it in any physical or digital form of my own - so I had to listen to it on Spotify - but I don’t think the algorithm is wrong. I first listened to it one morning last February, a moody, overcast day. My buddy Jason was out of town for the week and he offered up his house as a respite spot in exchange for watering his plants and getting his mail. I had just wrapped up a bunch of work projects and was feeling a little itchy, wanting to carve out some creative time for myself. So I left the computer at home and walked over to his house with only a few notebooks, eager to get some writing done. I put on this album and sat on his chaise lounge with a blanket and it was so damn cozy and quiet and it began to snow - a really beautiful light snow - and a short story just poured out of me and I took breaks to watch the snow swirl outside the window. The album ended and I listened to it again. And then again. Catherine is your guide through space and time of mid-century England, a coming of age story that may or may not be hers. She was only 20 years old when she put this out - and the LP had the briefest of shelf lives, disappearing after its release in the summer of 1971 when London’s Reflection Records went belly up - but Catherine composed these insanely beautiful, sort of haunted, little vignettes, punctuated by these short, seemingly silly interludes that feel like they’d be at home on a BBC after-school special. I love the big orchestration that feels intimate, the jazzy keys coming in at just the right spots, and her voice. Man, her voice. It was a great comfort in that moment last winter. And I felt like, without my knowing it beforehand, this album was meant for that day. I think you’ll see what I mean.
- Scott Sell 8/14/21