Reinvigorated after a long hiatus, on 26th June Proud Mary return with the new album Songs From Catalina. Many people remember Proud Mary from all the attention they received back in 2001, being the first signing to Noel Gallagher’s/Sony’s SourMash label, an association that produced their best-selling album to date, The Same Old Blues, along with prestigious support slots for artists such as Neil Young, The Who, Black Crowes, Paul Weller, to name a few.
“Personally, I think it was a great situation to be in for a young band but it all happened too fast and too early,” recalls main songwriter Paul Newsome. “I think if we had grown more organically and got to that stage at, say, our third album, we could have managed and maintained that degree of intensity much more successfully. We toured consistently for three years when we should have been writing and recording our next record, which the label was demanding. We also had junkies in the band unable to rehearse and soundcheck… it wasn’t the most creative period.”
The follow-up album ‘Love and light’ came out in 2004 on Redemption Records, although not as commercially successful as the debut it did included the hits ‘Mexico’ and ‘ The Blues’.
After ‘Love and light’ the band decided to form their own record label.
“We had our own recording studio in Venice Beach LA and a solid fan base so we believed, maybe naïvely, we could do it alone,” recalls Newsome. “Financially and creatively it worked okay and we kept the existing fanbase happy, but we never really expanded on that as we never engaged with the press or pluggers, so no one out of the circle knew what we were up to.”
“We’re hoping to address that with the new record. We’re slowly learning. It’s a long process but were getting there and 20 years in we’re enjoying it more than ever.”
The New album Songs from Catalina was recorded at Palam studios in the Santa Catalina area of Palma, Mallorca over a period of five months. Produced by José Puter Puigserver of Mallorcan experimental rock music the Satellites (with additional production taking place in California, Colorado and Doha, Qatar). It’s the first album from Proud Mary in almost a decade. It sees the band return with a fresh direction, on a collection of infectious and instantly familiar bluesy, stoner folk-rock inspired songs.
Take Opener ‘Easy Tiger’, a psych-blues number about a destructive and hopeless relationship tolerated by focusing of the rare and intense thrilling respites. True love via hate, hurt and everything in between. We can all bite off more than we can chew.
Or ‘Wonderland’, an Albert King-inspired blues song written about, and whilst, at a party in Ibiza. Referencing Tanit, a warrior goddess of dance, fertility, creation and destruction, the protector goddess of Ibiza, And Bes the deity of music, merriment. Channelled or exploited by the artists. inspiration or aspiration? A fool’s paradise, or is it Wonderland?
“I was living in the Balearics at the time and was fascinated by the Catalan culture and the Carthaginian legacy and their gods.” Adds Newsome. “The idea came to me in a taxi coming home from a beach party and I finished it as soon as I got home. It’s the quickest song I’ve ever written and probably my favourite on the record.”
Songs from Catalina also features the upbeat, guitar-led stomper ‘Keep It Moving’, the country-tinged ‘How Does It Feel?’, ‘Meet Me In The Morning’ and Blew It All Away’. The electronical and vocal experimentation of ‘Lazy Days and Loaded Nights’, ‘Spaces and Places’, and the acoustically traditional arrangements of ‘All Your Friends are Mine’, ‘Blew It All Away’ and ‘Oxwich Bay’.
Songs From Catalina is a welcome return for Proud Mary. An album with a melancholic, yet uplifting atmosphere, the languid mood evocative of lazy summer days, with songs featuring laidback groves, insidious hooks and harmonies, it is the perfect album to while away the summer…
Proud Mary comprises Greg Griffin (vocals), Paul ‘Spot’ Newsome (guitars, bass, keys, drums, harmonica and vocals), Nathan Birkett (bass, keys, guitars, vocals), Tony Auton (guitars, mandolin, vocals), and Hani Abbasi (drums, percussion and vocals).
Proud Mary plans to tour later this year.