REVIEW: ‘Am I The Kinda Girl?’ by Cathy Dennis (CD, 1996)


Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate is the 1996 third album Am I The Kinda Girl? by British singer and pop songwriter, Cathy Dennis. Was this the kinda album you’d want to hear? Read on…

This 11 track album opens with lead single West End Pad. This song opens with guitars that follow with a riff throughout, and soon we’re into a gentle verse and chorus mixture. This isn’t the Cathy we knew back in her Move To This album, but this song definitely reeks of her later S Club 7 writing style, and vocally reminds me of Kylie Minogue. The single itself only managed to reach #25 in the UK singles chart. 

The next song, Fickle sees Cathy joined by Guy Chambers (who would go on to collaborate with Robbie Williams amongst others) as a writer and he’s on keyboards too. At times the chorus reminds me of The Archies 1969 hit Sugar Sugar.

Guy returns for mid-tempo track When Dreams Turn To Dust, which again is laden with guitars, and has a wonderful range of warm backing vocals throughout. Sadly it stalled when it was released as the third single at #43 in the UK singles chart. This song feels far more indie than her other singles, and I guess that this musical change managed to lose some of her former fans, and this song’s gentle wafting sound wasn’t enough to capture enough ears and wallets. At times in the chorus I can almost hear Belinda Carlisle.

We’re straight into next track Stupid Fool with a roll of the drums. This song is really quite a nice track, the chilled guitars and gentle beat is complemented by the soft vocals from Cathy.

The album’s title track Am I The Kinda Girl? comes roaring in with some spectacularly growly electric guitars over a rock beat. In a way, this song reminds me of Natalie Imbruglia, Dragonette, and a bit like Shakespear’s Sister – kind of. Cathy’s vocals are as strong and confident as the guitars – she sounds perfectly suited in this style. Amusingly, in the sleeve notes, Cathy’s co-writer for this song is one ‘A Partridge’, which given her Norwich origins, makes me want it to be Alan Partridge – I can imagine him boasting about this one time…. However, it’s actually Andy Partridge from the band XTC.

A radio tunes in and out, and by contrast to the last track, a chilled beat and guitar comes in for Homing The Rocket. Cathy’s vocals are mellow here, resulting in a wonderfully warm sounding little guitar-led song. The song closes with the rocket zooming off.

That Is Why You Love Me follows with a wall of ‘aaaah‘ backing vocals and guitar. This song is wonderfully up-beat and nostalgically thick with 60’s sound. Again Guy Chambers is on co-writer duties, and I think that this is evident given some of Robbie’s singles. Kudos to this song for including the line ‘could it be my weakness for Michael Caine?‘. You heard that here ‘first’! A great little track.

Eighth track Waterloo Sunset is of course a cover of the Ray Davies (of The Kinks) 1967 hit. This track gave Cathy a return to the top 20, and one that sadly ran just shy of a top 10 hit – peaking at #11 in the UK. The guitars and backing vocals are wonderful. Cathy’s fragile vocal style suits this perfectly, and at times reminds me a little of Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne. Unsurprisingly, the 60’s echoes in these last two songs, came out of her collaborations with Ray Davies.

The 1960s sound returns in Don’t Take My Heaven, but this time sounds very much like the melody from Lenny Kravitz’ 1991 hit It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over. Again, Cathy’s sounds perfectly at home here in her 1960’s sounding originals. The track is a lovely little up-beat bouncy song, with plenty of dreamy ‘bah bah baaaah’s‘.

Up next is Cathy’s original collaboration with Ray Davies, The Date, although he isn’t credited as a musician on this song. Again, Cathy’s Belinda Carlisle vocal style returns at times, as this song gently plods along. This song is the longest on the album (at 4:35) and feels it.

The album closes with Crazy Ones, which very much feels like it’s built on a cover of Buffalo Springfield‘s 1960’s hit For What It’s Worth. The end result is an acoustic guitar rich track that’s soft, warm, and once joined by the strings, it’s a lovely wash of mellow sounds. A great gentle ending to this album.

Over all, I’m really pleased to have finally got to hear this album, having only really ever heard Waterloo Sunset. It’s clear that at this point, Cathy’s influences were from guitar-led music from the 60’s – a perfect match for that of Ray Davies. Therefore it’s completely unsurprising that she’d go on to write 60’s styled songs for former-Spice Girl Emma Bunton a few years later.

Whilst this switch from dance and pop to guitar-fueled indie essentially killed her own career, it has showed how easy she could diversify her vocal, musical, and writing style to fit other genres – something which inevitably made her far more famous today than she was back then, as a songwriter.

Where is Cathy Dennis now?

Whilst this album brought Cathy’s own music career as a solo artist to an end (so far), it wasn’t long until she  was co-writing for some of the biggest names in pop from the 90’s onwards – including Dannii Minogue, Kylie’s huge Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears and many more.

Amongst her biggest hits were those of S Club 7, with whom she worked for a long time, including appearances in their TV series.

To date, amongst the many awards she has earned, she has 5 Ivor Novello Awards, and a Doctorate in Music. Perhaps the end of her own musical solo career was actually a career highlight?

POP RESCUE RATING

  • POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1996 UK CHART PEAK: #78
  • POP RESCUE COST: £2.86 from an eBay seller.

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