Revue Magazine - April/May 2008
Cathy Ponton King / Undertow / Long Gone
Cathy Ponton Kings 1992 debut, Lovin You Right,
was a stylish, stirring effort replete with excellent tracks like Sweet,
Sad and Lonely with fine guitar work by Jimmy Thackery, the disc successfully
announced Ponton King as a talent to watch. Fans hoping for an immediate follow-up
were disappointed, but her second disc finally has arrived, 15 years later, in
the form of the sharp, moving Undertow.
Despite her long absence from the studio,
Ponton King hasnt been idle. The Virginia-based singer and guitarist has
spent the past decade and a half performing nearly every weekend in the Washington
DC area and writing songs with Jeff King, her husband and producer. Her voice
is supple and expansive, with an upper register than can move into a hard belt
or a fluttery falsetto, depending on the mood. Like Janiva Magness, she never
strains or oversings.
Some of Undertows instrumentation sounds dated,
and the drummer occasionally rushes a bit, but despite these flaws, its
a sincere and deeply felt effort. Little Bridge is a rousing Memphis
stomper, while Comfort and Blessings captures the bottom heavy sounds
of Hi Records and 1970s soul. Ponton Kings songwriting often displays
a welcome touch of idiosyncrasy, such as on Things Turned Out That Way,
which opens with the line, How can Something, so evil, be so beautiful?.
Champagne Days are Over places similarly inventive lyrics within a
Soft Sound , one of the discs lovelier
moments, is a musical attempt to find peace within chaos, tenderly and sweetly
delivered. But perhaps the most powerful track is Cant Let you Walk
Away, a strong ballad graced by fine playing from guitarist Mike Lessin.
Ponton Kings voice flows with depth and meaning, carried along by a theme
fear of separation that will resonate with most listeners.
Ponton King is a blueswoman for the 21st Century, offsetting the challenges of
a career in this struggling genre with a happy family life. With Undertow, she
brings us up to date on her accomplishments and cements her reputation as an independent
spirit. (David Freeland)