It is said that a change is as good as a rest, and for Katie Doherty it is both a rest, and a change, that provide the backdrop to her latest album And Then. Back in 2007, Doherty became an award-winning songwriter, and released her debut solo album Bridges to much acclaim - including airplay from BBC Radio 2 - leading her to share stages with the likes of Karine Polwart, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, and Ray Davies. Life however - as it has a habit of doing - got in the way, putting the brakes for the moment on a soaring trajectory. New roles as composer for many Northern Stage productions, as well as MD for a Royal Shakespeare Company production, may have slowed her output but they have also broadened her knowledge and love for music.
It perhaps should not be a huge surprise then that much of Doherty’s new album is rooted in her keen observation of the concept of change. Whether the focus be on the changing seasons, life circumstances, the passage of time, or the shifting of social attitudes and behaviour, on And Then we see Doherty shine a light on how it feels to be part of a world that can be hard to keep up with.
Yours immediately lands as a story of leaving a beloved city behind. Rose In Winter conjures imagery of the creeping in of Winter, and Tiny Little Shoes explores the rollercoaster of first-time parenthood and the accompanying feelings of overwhelming responsibility. Elsewhere on the record are songs that offer a deep examination of wider-world issues, notably the title track, which spotlights societal pressures in the age of social media, as Doherty explains;
“The pressure to live up to expectation and to portray ‘perfect’ is ridiculous and in the age of social media, it's constant, relentless and damaging. I think so much time can get lost in this pursuit and it kills creativity and imagination. I suppose it’s the ultimate procrastination…you don’t get much done when you’re so busy trying to live up to the world’s expectations. I’m not sure at what point in childhood we lose our wild abandon in favour of fitting in but it’d be great if we all had the ability to revert back once in a while.”
In turn, Angry Daughter is song about resilience in the face of inequality. Doherty continues;
“During many debates on gender inequality I have heard women sounding almost apologetic about what could be viewed as ‘feminine’ qualities - because we don’t shout the loudest, speak up soon enough…push forward their ideas etc. I wrote this song as an antiapology, a celebration of the measured, considered and dignified approach to standing your ground, which often gets ignored.”
And Then marks the start of a sparkling new chapter for Katie Doherty.