Catherine McGrath @ The Great Escape @ Unitarian Church 20th May 2017

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Headlining the Unitarian Church was the exceptional Catherine McGrath. Born in County Down, Northern Ireland, Catherine moved to London last year to chase the dream. Signed to Warner Music McGrath is a country pop artist who has an ever growing fan base. Some of the artists/ bands she’s supported include Canaan Smith, The Shires, Picture This, Una Healy, Cam and Kelsea Ballerini. Plus Catherine will be playing the British Summer Time festival this July which Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers headline.

Taking to the small stage at 10.30pm, Catherine and her band rattled through 7 sensational songs which feature on debut EP One and the forthcoming follow up Starting From Now. “Hello. My name’s Catherine McGrath” Catherine said before opening up with the delightful Hell Would Have To Freeze Over. This was a whimsical country pop cut revolved around a relationship which ended badly but the boy has realised she was the one. But the girl is having none of it, so she sets him a list of impossible tasks “Hell Would Have To Freeze Over/ Drink will start making you sober/ You would have to find me a 5 leaf clover/ Before I let you back in my heart/ Every war would have to be over/ The sun will start getting colder/ You’ll have to catch me a Supernova/ Before I let you back in my arms”. Those sumptuous lyrics were so addictive and McGrath’s vocal tones were so sweet.

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“It’s like if you go on a diet and you’re like I’m not going to eat anymore chocolate now and then you have a little bit more chocolate. And you’re like OK Starting From Now. It’s kind of like that but with a boy. So I was like I’m not going to talk to him anymore and I would talk to him again and be like this time I’m doing nothing” Catherine mentioned to the gathered audience explaining the reasoning behind Starting From Now. Well this was an infectious toe tapping ballad focused on McGrath’s weakness for this one boy “Starting From Now/ I don’t answer your calls/ Starting From Now/ I don’t open that door/ But we both know that you’re coming over/ Like you did six times before/ Starting From Now/ I won’t let you back in/ I said it before/ But this time I mean it/ Till I’m waking up beside you saying I’ll never do that again/ Starting From Now”. Anyways this was one glorious cut which Catherine McGrath delivered to perfection.

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Once over it was then time for Cinderella. Now Catherine wrote this tasty tune in Nashville with Liz Rose. Now Liz is responsible for working with Taylor Swift on her first two albums. Cinderella was a beautiful piece of perfection aided by enchanting lyrics and a swooning melody “What if tonight’s our night/ What if we kiss just right/ What if we found what we’re looking for in each others eyes/ What if it sets us free/ What if it’s meant to be/ What if it’s that easy/ What if the shoe fits me”. I’ve witnessed this hypnotising song a number of times live and it’s slightly reminiscent to Taylor Swift’s Love Story. “This is a song about my point of view. This is just the way I see love. But I feel like everything is doomed to completely fail. This song is the positive flip” McGrath said to the intimate audience before getting stuck into Just In Case. This delicious jam was about taking chances and you shouldn’t deem a relationship is doomed to fail. You never know that person could actually be the one. Just In Case was a whimsical effort and Catherine’s sticky sweet vocal tones left me utterly enchanted. This had been perfectly written as the toe tapping lyrics had me hooked from the word go “Just In Case/ You should probably kiss me/ Probably whisper in my ear/ Probably hold me, like you need me/ Before the moment disappears/ Might end up in heartbreak/ Might not be the real thing/ But it could be/ So you should probably kiss me/ Just In Case” and that pacey middle 8 was literally a work of art.

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“This is one of the first songs I ever wrote when I moved to London” Catherine said before embarking onto She’ll Never Love You which she wrote with her guitarist Jon. This wondrous cut was extremely smooth and McGrath’s succulent vocal tones were pleasant on my ear. Also the clear cut lyrics were an emotional rollercoaster as they had me picturing a relationship which turned sour and the guy moved on and the girl is basically saying that the new partner wouldn’t be better than me “She’ll Never Love You/ Like I loved you baby/ She’ll never touch you/ Like I touched you baby/ Could have had my heart inside your hands/ But you took that chance away”. 

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“This is about a guy who broke up with his girlfriend after 5 years. They were meant to see Coldplay together then she cheated on him. So he took me instead and like the whole concert he was texting her. Looking back on it I’m like it was so cute but at the time I couldn’t fully see it” Catherine mentioned before getting stuck into the highly contagious Wild. Now this song was an utter masterpiece aided by McGrath’s beautiful vocal tones and lyrics which tugged on my heart strings “It was a Coldplay concert/ On a Thursday night/ 40,000 people with there hands in the sky/ Standing by your side I shoulda been singing/ Wishing you were mine, was all that I was thinking/ I know you wanted her when you looked in my eyes/ And you almost kissed me underneath the lights/ It should be me stuck on your mind/ Taking your time/ It should be me, stealing your heart driving you Wild”. What got me was the fact that those lyrics painted the picture of Catherine being so into this guy but he’s not fully over his ex despite her cheating on him. I really hope Wild does make an appearance on a third EP or the debut album. “The reason that I do it on my own because it’s the most depressing song that I have. Thank you so much for listening for being nice and not throwing stuff at me. Like tomatoes” McGrath said before signing off with the dreamy Never Wanna Fall In Love. This cut was an emotional ballad revolving around a love that was meant to be, but then one mistake ruins the whole relationship “Shoulda been you standing with me/ Would have been everything we dreamed/ Shoulda been us, Shoulda been trust/ But it was you that messed it all up”.

SET LIST

Hell Would Have To Freeze Over
Starting From Now
Cinderella
Just In Case
She’ll Never Love You
Wild
Never Wanna Fall In Love

OVERALL: This was one pristine performance which captivated me from the very beginning till its very end. The church was such an idyllic venue for music shows and it’s perfect for stripped back acoustic jams. It was a pleasure to hear the sweet songs from the One EP yet again and the new tunes only cranks up my anticipation for the Starting From Now EP.

McGrath is a talented singer/ songwriter on the rise, the tracks which she showcased were a credit to her as they were perfectly written. Catherine’s has an exciting future ahead of her and I for one cannot wait to see what the rest of 2017 holds for her.

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