Catherine Coffey, ’16, has recently debuted her first L.P. titled “Pray You Love Remember.” The 11-track offering from Coffey comes on the heels of her signing with Vanity Plate Records, a record label founded in 2016 by a fellow Hillsdale graduate and classmate Danielle Adams, ’18.
From the opening bars of the first track, “Pray You Remember” highlights the beauty of simple acoustics when it is a mastered art. Coffey said she made clear her aim to convey “simple messages that are so potent and heartfelt.”
The album leaves room for the listener to ponder Coffey’s rich lyrics. While much of modern music tends to inject every nanosecond of a song full of high-octane electronic mixing or attention-grabbing riffs, Coffey is not afraid to allow listeners the chance to pause for a moment to think during her songs.
“I am a big believer in the death of the author when it comes to music,” Coffey said. “I want more interpretive ability for the listener to apply it to their own life and allow my story to reflect in them.”
“Pray You Love Remember” carries an ocean’s worth of personal inspiration from the opening track, “O Mistress Mine.” As the smooth and simple piano accompaniment establishes the pattern, Coffey begins her album on a somber note.
“‘For the first track, the title is taken from Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night.’ I wanted the album to begin with the longing for shared experience,” Coffey said.
The second track of the album, “Where We Start”, was written as a gift to Coffey’s newlywed sister, Bridget. Coffey said it is inspired by “watching someone find new hope and purposes,” She contrasts the painful yearning of “O Mistress Mine” with a what she called a “hopefulness of a desire for love.”
Yet even as it emphasizes a new dawning of love, a quiet sense of fear and concern carries over from the first track.
“Love come fiercely, teach me to be brave,” Coffey sings, before ending her song, “This is where I end, this is where we start.”
The album continues with Coffey alternating between the piano and guitar while maintaining a consistent theme of simplicity that allows her voice to shine through, in particular on the songs “Friend” and “Fall.” Coffey credits a variety of artists as inspiration for the album’s feel including Jeff Buckley and Carla Morrison. While she grew up listening to folk music and to the chants at Mass, Coffey said that one of her favorite influences was Jim Henson.
The album draws to a close with “Emilias,” which Coffey describes as the highlight of the album. Written for a friend, the song reflects on a variety of themes touched upon over the course of the album and concludes with a hopeful tone after the emotional ups-and-downs of the album. The song, in Coffey’s own words, underlines the importance of female relationships as it ties together the themes of the album.
“Pray You Love Remember” gives the listener the chance to both hear Coffey’s words as well as find connection between hers and the listener’s own experiences. A clear mirror of clean acoustics allows the soul to see one’s trials in life reflect in the music played. Coffey’s consistency in artistry, honoring the theme of the album, shines through above all else in her debut L.P.