Album Reviews

Katherine Priddy – The Pendulum Swing

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 16 February 2024

Exploring the emotive pull of home, the singer-songwriter’s second album demonstrates growing maturity and talent

Katherine Priddy - The Pendulum Swing Home is where the heart is, as the saying goes. Katherine Priddy‘s second album explores the emotive pull of home, bookending the record with the gentle instrumentals Returning and Leaving, and then filling the gap in-between with 10 songs, mostly about domesticity and that comforting place we call home.

Priddy’s debut album in 2021, The Eternal Rocks Beneath, delivered on her early promise as a folk prodigy, full of atmospheric, beautifully crafted songs that boasted names like Richard Thompson and Guy Garvey as admirers. The Pendulum Swing is a solid follow-up, which may be missing the surprise quality its predecessor provided, but more than makes up with the quality of its songs.

Returning, that opening instrumental, almost feels like a warm-up: a gently flowing piano, the sound of a string section tuning up, and distant voices in the background. It’s a beautifully atmospheric way to start the album, and when it effortlessly segues into Selah, the effect is magnificent. Selah is the first time that we hear Priddy’s skill at finger-picking her acoustic guitar – like the rest of the album, it’s understated, but possesses a quiet beauty that becomes quite compelling.

There are more than a few comparisons to be made to All About Eve on The Pendulum Swing: Priddy’s voice often sounds like a dead-ringer for Julianne Regan, while there’s also some nods to Solitude Standing-era Suzanne Vega. Most of the songs are laidback acoustic laments, and Priddy’s at her best on achingly beautiful songs like First House On The Left, a song about childhood memories and the pull that such memories can exert.

Occasionally, there’s a full band sound, as on Does She Hold You Like I Did, which embraces a rich Americana sound – the title may suggest a tear-drenched country ballad, but this has all the swagger of a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. At the other end of the scale is A Boat On The River, a lovely lament about, as the title suggests, just wanting to escape the rat-race and live on a boat. It’s simple, but effective.

There’s an immersive quality to Simon Weaver’s production as well – it’s best experienced in headphones to catch all the little audio tricks that are placed on the record: the gentle swell of the strings on Father Of Two, the background murmur of conversations or the sound of a footstep on the stairs. It all adds to the warm, comforting aura that Priddy’s songs have in spades.

Although the overall tone is reflective and wistful, that makes the more upbeat moments all the more effective. Walnut Shell, about the relationship between twins, skips along beautifully, and the penultimate track Ready To Go, is a duet between Priddy and North Yorkshire-based musician George Boomsma where the two singers vocals mesh beautifully.

Considering it’s just her second album, The Pendulum Swing is a record that demonstrates Katherine Priddy’s growing maturity and talent. There’s probably no danger of a Lankum-style crossover just yet, but don’t be surprised to see her filling the ‘folk nomination’ space on the Mercury Prize list in a few years.

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Katherine Priddy – The Pendulum Swing