The Freight & Salvage in downtown Berkeley is known for its excellent curation of folk, Americana and traditional music. You could just swing by on a Tuesday and be almost guaranteed an excellent show if these genres are your jam. If you were going to do that this week, however, we recommend you swing by on Friday night May 29th instead and catch Caitlin Canty open for Eilen Jewell.
Canty is a Vermont native living in Nashville who brings an unfettered voice and songwriting style that is at once reminiscent of Nicki Bluhm, and distinct from her. Where Bluhm veers towards the rock side of country, folk and blues, Canty steers closer to the folk side of blues and country. Where Bluhm exudes a lightness of heart even in the saddest song, Canty seems to bring a haunting sadness to every note she sings. While combining American genres earns them both the Americana tag, Canty’s Americana seems best suited to the intimate 500-seat Freight & Salvage listening room, which boasts some of the Bay’s best sound by the way.
The arrangements on her recent LP Reckless Skyline keep instrumentation sparse even on the fuller-sounding songs like “(My Baby) Don’t Care” and “True to You.” And it’s this spareness that appeals. On “Southern Man,” Canty builds a compelling and complete vision of a working class American love: “Working man with calloused hands / Gentler than a gentle man / Hold me tight / The world is put right / You’re a good man to stand by / Man of mine.” With no more than 2-3 chords, a subtle drone and the well-placed use of harmonies the song forges an epic emotional foundation that brings to mind the very work that might give one those calloused hands.
Check out her cover of Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” below, and then get your tickets for Friday night by going here. The show is the beginning of a full tour that will take her to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado later this summer.