Having lent vocal lustre to albums by Aim & Rae & Christian, the Canadian singer Kate Rogers steps up to the plate this month with a small gem of a solo album, ‘St. Eustacia’ (released by Grand Central). A deft lyrical touch – “lately, I’ve been looking forward to meeting the rest of you” – is but one of her gifts; above all, though, is Rogers’ wonderful voice that moves the album from the ‘mildly diverting” pile to the one marked “slow-burning but ultimately outstanding”. Flecked with blues, roots, jazz and country, her songwriting too, shows why it is high time she moves out of the shadows. ‘St. Eustacia is one of those records that will soundtrack events that are memories in the making, could we but know it.’
Growing up on a country farm near Toronto, Kate Rogers often found herself twiddling her thumbs. She turned to music and art as a way to entertain herself (“I had on brother, but back then he was just into fighting,” laughs Kate, “so I used to retreat to my room to sing and draw.”) and eventually took lessons in classical singing in her early teens. “I started singing from the moment I could open my mouth, I always mimicked people,” she recalls. Who, CityLife enquires. “Oh, God,” she laughs, “I can’t admit that! Well, when I was six or seven, we had these big speakers and I used to put Abba on and lie on top of the speakers and just soak it in. I probably did terrible damage to myself.” Raised on John Denver and north American folk music, Kate discovered rock in her early teens and took up guitar. She dabbled with teh fashion industry as a career but was talked back into music by her cousin, Mark Rae, who set up Manchester record label Grand Central. “I used to follow bands around and I made clothes and jewelery on the road just to make money. “There was a lot of time in music where I felt I was jumping into a big hole and I didn’t know where it was gonna go. But now, after working and touring in different countries, it feels good to have that goal and I’m not under any illusions about what’s possible for me – there’s no dream of superstardom.” Kate’s back in Manchester with her band to play Dpercussion, a festival she’s regularly attended as a spectator. “There’s a lot of nurturing between Canada and the UK in terms of what’s going on in music. Every time I’ve played here, they’ve been so welcoming. Britain is looked at musically as a very special place.”
Raised on an isolated farm in Canada, Kate Rogers probably isn’t used to crowded places. But boasting affecting, folkish-tinged vocals, ‘St. Eustacia’ parachutes her right among the Dido’s and Beth Ortons of this world. Fortunately, thanks to her emotional range, she still manages to shine. ‘Not Ten Years Ago’ casts her as a wronged avenger, while the spacey guitars of ‘Odyssey’ reveal a more fragile side. With shifting instrumentation – from simple pianos to Arabian-infected beats – reflecting her changing moods, the likes of the rousing title track suggests she won’t simply be fading into the crowd.