In an otherwise muddled year of short days and even shorter nights, I should come to remember the monsoons of 2021 with the time I met Johnny Cattini through the sound of his music.
For me to have heard Cattini’s latest EP Yellow Moon was a game of ridiculously odd chances, and in the flurry of music that I encounter in my day-ins and outs, no particular artist continues to accompany me to the temporary retirement following the melancholic sundown. This was certain, till I pooled in a few hours of my evening to devote myself to the sound of the English guitarist and composer, and there could be no music review accurate enough to capture how those ridiculous odds and a hasty decision led to one of the most prized musical performances in my audio libraries.
Cattini follows up some of his earlier work such as Whole Love and Sleeping Alone with his EP Yellow Moon, appearing more poised and in charge of everything that occurs across the tracks than appearing as the sole voice behind the numbers. For all intents and purposes, Yellow Moon follows the traditional arc of each short EP, dividing itself into three tracks, each following distinctly unique melodic formulas from the other although being led with mostly the same instrumentation and sticking to closely defined genres. At its most characteristic level, these genres are loose and abstract, albeit can be broadly categorized into acoustic folk, acoustic ambient music with hints of flamenco, blues and offshoots of Americana.
The EP leads off with the title track — a three-minute acoustic indie adventure featuring idiophonic percussion and country-style John Mayer-type electric guitar sweeps and licks and brass melodies. Cattini’s vocals about coming of age and romantic heartbreak is only upped by the stunning bluesy guitar solo that finishes the track off, easily making it not just one of the favourite elements of the tune but also the feature that people remember the track by. Think Mayer in his Born and Raised era in collaboration with the thematic inclinations of 2017 Niall Horan — that is Johnny Cattini.
The following track You Only Call Me When You’re High is moodier, more folksy and more emotive. Thematically, the track is a lovelorn romantic ballad sung from Cattini’s perspective, wondering about the validity of the love from the romantic interest. The track is an introspective tearjerker with the lyrics — ‘Do you only call me when you’re lonely / You only call me to dry your tears / And I have been waiting the whole week’, highlighting Cattini’s stream of consciousness. Instrumentally, the idiophones form the main percussive backbone with the rhythm acoustics. Once again, the electric guitar is not afraid to pull every string of your soul to make it sing.
Understandably, not only does Sleeping Alone serve the role of the closing track but also offers the singer-songwriter closure in his romantic inquisition as he sings — ‘Feels pretty good to move on / Feels pretty good to say so long / Oh it’s over, babe / Couldn’t be happier now you’re gone’. Although Sleeping Alone instrumentally follows the same formulas as its previous tracks, the track is defined by the soaring harmonies assisting the main melody. In a bluesy and alt-country style, Johnny Cattini seals off his latest project certainly leaving the listeners wanting more.