They say there are multiple stages to a breakup and Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson (otherwise known as CMAT) puts these to music on her sparkling sophomore effort, Crazymad, For Me. With a bizarre concept in tow (involving an alternate CMAT who builds a time machine so she can stop a disastrous relationship in her twenties from happening), the Dublin-born singer takes the listener through grief, anger and something like acceptance across Crazymad..’s 48 minute and 47 second duration, with 12 theatrical country pop songs.
Where her debut album If My Wife New I’d Be Dead was Thompson testing the waters with her country-pop sound, its follow-up feels bolder, bigger and yet still unapologetically CMAT. Opening tracks ‘California’ and ‘Phone Me’ are full of luxuriant string arrangements and Thompson makes her statement of intent clear. She’s going on a journey through her past, present and onto the future while taking the listener with her.
‘Vincent Kompany’ and ‘Such A Miranda’ are softer sounding tracks, citing football managers and Sex & The City, which hark back to the feel of her previous album where Thompson leans on humour to disguise the more emotional side of her music (and her self). ‘Rent’, however, embraces the emotional side and proves a standout track, as Thompson’s vocals take centre stage against the minimalist musical arrangements.
John Grant collaboration ‘Where Are Your Kids Tonight?’ is indie-pop at its finest, dripping with twinkling piano and gorgeous vocal harmonies. Where there are quiet moments earlier in the album, this song is full of soaring vocals and captivating hooks — proof that Thompson is extremely dedicated to her craft.
‘Can’t Make Up My Mind’ proves a slow-burner but offers plenty of depth and emotion — something this album has in forkfuls. ‘I…Hate Who I Am When I’m Horny’ and ‘Torn Apart’ are sprawling and inward-looking, sensitive standouts that sit nicely next to the three previous singles ‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’, ‘Stay For Something’ and ‘Have Fun!’.
The first of the previous singles ‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’ is a soft, quip-filled country bop that gradually builds thanks to orchestral-influenced instrumentals. ‘Stay For Something’ is a pop-soaked song, reflecting on previous relationships (and the fact that starting a band with your partner probably isn’t a good idea) and the difficulty that comes with letting them go.
‘Have Fun!’ is a standout final track, full of bouncing piano notes and a real sense of enjoyment. It might be a short album but Crazymad, For Me doesn’t hold back on emotion, offering strong vocals and theatrical musical arrangements throughout. Breakups are hard but, with this album, CMAT is giving herself (and fans) permission to not only embrace who these experiences make them but also take steps to move on.
Words by Jen Rose
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