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Kathryn Calder: Are You My Mother?

Kathryn Calder joined The New Pornographers in 2005 on a temp-to-hire basis, originally as a replacement for Neko Case, who didn’t always have time to tour with the supergroup. Five years later, her debut solo album, Are You My Mother?, shows that Calder has gleaned the ability to write hooky, jogging New Pornos-like anthems without the race-to-the-finish windedness of her other band, Immaculate Machine. Exhibit A is AYMM?’s musical playfulness: On “Down The River,” percussive violin keeps a rigid beat as Calder’s sweetly understated coo dances in and out of the spaces between. That reflective ballad, with its chorus of “Say your goodnights and your goodbyes”—the album is a tribute to Calder’s late mother—builds to a quickened vocal crescendo; “Castor And Pollux,” otherwise gently swaying indie-rock fare, introduces eerie moments of silence as early as the first verse. Tempo bends, but so do genres, as Calder introduces gospel harmonies on “Low” and zippy bluegrass mandolin on “Follow Me Into The Hills.” At just 10 songs, Are You My Mother? is more a sampler of Calder’s talent than a full-blown introduction, but it’s textured enough to whet appetites for more.


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