Tiny Desk

Cate Le Bon

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13 min 32 sec

The Beatles may be an odd place to begin a Cate Le Bon conversation, but I remember being struck by the way four guys from Liverpool could sing without their English accents. That's true of most pop singers, whose words often come out sounding more American than anything else. But that's not true with Cate Le Bon. Her phrasing is completely tied to her Welsh dialect — in fact, her first record was in Welsh. I find that that draws me into her songs: The enunciation is completely tied to the loneliness and the questioning. One song she sings at the Tiny Desk, from her brilliant album Mug Museum, is called "Are You With Me Now?"

There is a feeling I love

Buried in my brow

I have no reason to run

I see no reason

Are you with me now?

Listen to the inflection in the line 'Buried in my brow,' and then when she poses the question; it's so intimate, such a whisper, so inviting. I'm also a fan of her clean, sharp guitar playing and the way she weaves it together with her partner H. Hawkline. If you're a fan of Tom Verlaine and Television, you'll find yourself loving this lyrical guitar duo. It works so well stripped-down, though there wasn't much excess in the original versions to begin with. These are songs of essence, clarity and drive, executed so simply here.

Set List
  • "Are You With Me Now?"
  • "No God"
  • "Duke"

Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Editor: Olivia Merrion; Audio Engineer: Chad Miller; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Olivia Merrion; photo by Meredith Rizzo/NPR

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