Music Recommendation: The Trials Of Cato

Just a short post today as I’ve been pretty poorly all week and, being a temp, having to go to work anyway because money and stuff.

I’d like to use my blog today to give a shout-out to a great trio of musicians who perform under the name The Trials Of Cato. I do not know the origins of that name, but it sounds cool.

They’re a folk group who, according to their bio page, hail from North Wales and Yorkshire, via Beirut. I discovered them a couple of years back when they were busking in Cambridge city centre, picked up a copy of their self-titled EP and was quite impressed. They were busking again earlier this year and their sound was good the first time, but they were a couple of years’ worth of better, and sound absolutely amazing now – their dedication to live performance has clearly paid off. So I bought their album off them in person. There are social justice songs, and songs of traditional tales, and traditional instrumental music.

Were it not for feeling poorly, and worn out, and the rest of it, I would definitely have gone to see them at the Portland Arms tonight. And if they’re ever performing anywhere near you, and you like traditional music with twangy things (they have a variety of such!) you should make plans to go along.

One song off the album I would like to particularly mention is Gloria. It looks as though this is their own composition, and it caught my attention because listening to it I got the sense straight away that it was in some way talking about me. Not any of the particulars or details, but a sense of who the song is about.

I listened closer, and it dawned on me that it was a song of a trans woman or genderfluid person finding hir way to express hir gender more fully. I needed to check the written lyrics in the cover booklet to be sure, but the lyric I wasn’t sure about turned out to be what I hoped it was.

The lyric was, “And I forget that I was born a man” – a line that is not perfect in terms of the language preferred these days, but I am willing to give them a pass because it makes a great rhythm and scansion in context (I could probably write a song built around the line, “I forget I was assigned male at birth” and make it work, but maybe I’ll save that project for another day).

But it’s the point of forgetting and escaping that presumed maleness that resonates for me throughout the narrative of the song, even though I was never a miner and never performed my music in London (with the exception of a few auditions for TV talent shows). There is, nevertheless, a lot that speaks to the experience, if not the details, of my gender identity and making sense of it in a world. “There were those who said that it transgressed / and there were those who saw beyond the dress.”

It feels like a song written for me, not about me, and that’s what feels right about it – and I feel like there’s probably a lot of queer folk like me (or not like me) who will feel the same way.

And that is the real reason why I wanted to shout out this amazing band, from Wales and Yorkshire via Lebanon, and found (by me, anyway) in Cambridge.

About ValeryNorth

I overthink everything.
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