CMAT today releases her debut album If My Wife New I'd Be Dead via AWAL Recordings. 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.
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 album opens with Nashville, a song inspired by a story Ciara heard about a man who planned his own death, told friends he was moving to California and attended a leaving party that was rather more significant than anyone else realised. “I go through more severe ups and downs than most people I know -I mean, not to brag- and my mind immediately went to an idea of: ‘Well, if I was going to do that I’d say I was going to Nashville’,” Ciara says. “And in the moment that I caught what my mind was doing, I wrote the song.”
As the album unfolds, the listener is taken on a tour of the countless miniature kitchen sink dramas taking place at all times in CMAT’s head. We hear about dating (“my mental health is banking on my chastity, and you’re bad for me,” she sings in No More Virgos), solitude (Lonely), and the way booze and blokes each offer so much and deliver so little (Every Bottle (Is My Boyfriend)). Throughout, there are lyrics that find Ciara facing up to life’s challenges with the determination, endurance and strength of spirit you’d expect from a woman who survived several months working in the changing rooms at TK Maxx.
CMAT is a country/pop/singer-songwriter, Elle King meets Orville Peck. All songs written with a literary panache in true Irish tradition and with tons of wit. CMAT is the stage name of Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, a global pop star who lives in Dublin with her grandparents, where she is currently recovering from an AliExpress addiction. Her influences include Dory Previn, John Grant, Paris Hilton, XTC and KFC.
“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. I put as much ‘Ciara specific detail’ in my songs as possible. So even though I’m singing about the specificity of crying in KFC, that’s far better than if you’re like (bursts into song) ‘drivin’ in a car, down the road goin’ so far’. I don’t just throw words out there. I like specifics. And I like real life. Things that people actually do.” - CMAT on her songwriting arguing that the less universal a song is intended to be, the more relatable it somehow ends up being.
Listen here to If My Wife New I'd Be Dead.