CMAT today shares new single Lonely, taken from her debut album If My Wife New I'd Be Dead, set for release via AWAL Recordings on March 4th 2022. Lyrically, the pretty-but-plaintive country-tinged Lonely strikes a more sombre tone compared with previous singles - focusing on mental health struggles, isolation and alienation. But as ever with CMAT, everything is imbued with her unique comic sensibility.
The song is accompanied by another visual masterpiece - shot and produced, once again, by Tiny Ark, the video finds the Dublin pop queen showcasing (with a little help from her friends) yet another one of her hidden talents: roller skating.
Few artists manage to blend bountiful hooks with such humour and wit; the 12 songs that make up this idiosyncratic, captivating and rather extraordinary debut album reveal an artist brimming with confidence and verve. 2021 was quite a year for Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, one of the year's breakout stars, earning critical recognition as well as a legion of new fans.
Of 'Lonely', CMAT says; "I started writing the song ‘Lonely’ in the Arndale food hall in Manchester when I was on my break from work. Anyone who has been there will know that it is as aesthetically unpleasant as it is bustling, at all hours of the day. There was something that always drew me to it though - people. I was very isolated during this period of my life and longed for a day when I could be sitting at a table of friends that I did not have. Instead, I found myself regularly sitting alone and watching strange families and friend groups, peering out from underneath a Taco Bell crunch wrap, for a false sense of comfort.
"It took me years to finish this song because I couldn’t figure out the point of it. Then the pandemic happened, and suddenly I realised that everybody was in the boat that I had been long accustomed to (my sea legs are beefy in this regard). I realised that the point of isolation is maybe to learn to cherish people more, and to not be so scared of them, or scared of how you are perceived by them.
"Ultimately though, I wrote this song to try and get Robbie Williams to notice me."
You’d be forgiven for finding it confusing that Ciara’s disparate tastes — an encyclopaedic knowledge of modern pop, a passion for British post-punk outfits like Orange Juice and Television, a desire and strong belief that Robbie Williams is her real dad — can come together and somehow all make sense in CMAT’s music, but it all makes sense to Ciara, and it makes even more sense when you hear her debut album. Which is probably why Ciara’s a popstar and the rest of us aren’t. “All the former versions of myself have Play-Doh-balled themselves into one big lump,” is her way of describing her sound. The golden thread in all this is Ciara’s voice, which sits her somewhere between Kate Bush and, most importantly, country turns like Dolly Parton. “I learned how to sing through country music: it’s the number one influence on how I sing,” she explains. “So while I’m not a country musician, I do think I’m a country singer. It’s glam. It’s tacky. It’s beautiful. It’s fun. It’s vibrant. Lyrically those artists like to have fun.”
The invention of CMAT came about after Ciara strong-armed her way into a private songwriting masterclass hosted by Charli XCX, who played unreleased music to assembled hopefuls. Ciara was the only attendee to offer a critique of the demos; afterwards Charli sought her out, heard her story and advised Ciara to “blow my entire life up”. She knocked Manchester on the head and went back to Dublin. 2019 was spent on YouTube, where she set herself the challenge of writing a song a week for six months, posting new songs each Friday from the only venue she could afford to book: a yoga studio. By 2020 her DIY ethic was bearing fruit with a run of self-released singles such as 'Another Day (KFC)', 'Rodney', 'I Don’t Really Care For You' and 'I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby!', scoring coverage from Wonderland, Clash, Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Line Of Best Fit, The Fader and more, plus radio support from BBC Radio 1 & BBC 6Music. CMAT’s name has popped up in a number of 2022 tip lists, including Dork, DIY, Gigwise and more.
At the heart of all this, beneath what CMAT describes as “the singing and the being witty and all the ‘whatever’ that comes with the smoke and mirrors of being a musician”, is a belief in the power of songwriting. “Other stuff needs work,” she declares. “I can’t do production, I can barely play guitar, and I should probably do more to look after my voice. But I’m really, really good at writing songs.”
Listen to 'Lonely' here.