Garrett Kato

REVIEW: Garrett Kato “Small Town Rituals”


Garrett Kato – Small Town Rituals

Basically, an independent effort from a Canadian-born Australian-based Garrett Kato who self-produced this set. The PR says the artist uses an organic approach. When they use words that have little to do with real music I’m suspect.

This kind of music always existed. For me, organic music may as well be something created with analog equipment. Artists that write organically by definition supposedly do so from a deep well of emotion, with mood & from a dreamscape. It’s where most composers of the past drew their inspiration as well…but, with a glass of legal lubricant.

Garrett Kato can describe his music any way he wishes. It’s of the vulnerable variety but most importantly — it’s a well-produced showcase. Soulful, dreamy & with a moderately intense style Kato’s first single “Telephone,” is a well-written ballad. Ballad & nothing more. No artificial flavors.

Garrett Kato

Despite his soft touch, it’s his purity & warm vocals that work best. A toss-back to early Johnny Mathis. A forte that’s smooth & evocative. Such as Sade & some singers from the 50s. “Disappearing Light,” has acoustic guitar & vocals are intriguing though they never linger long in that vibe. The tune picks up & has good musicianship & arrangement. Songs written in this style can woozy a person into a valium haze. That doesn’t happen here.

Small Town Rituals (Drops June 17–Independent/Nettwerk) & includes introspective songs expressed thru music with a reference to inner turmoil, personal feelings, reflection, vices, mental health, etc. Kato doesn’t embellish his music so much as enlighten it with soulful beauty. It’s what makes the songs accessible. Music of this genre isn’t new, singer Angelo Bond (“Bondage”) explored these depths decades ago. It’s a genre that’s slippery. It’s not always exciting. It doesn’t go for the feet as much as it goes for the heart. The deep end where groove & vibe paint the conscience. It’s not where lust thrives, but where empathy shares space with indecision.

The cover of “Time After Time,” falls flat. There’s sincerity in Kato’s version but it has little octane. Good tunes are plentiful, “The Great Optimist,” & “Rearview Mirror,” both border on the late Nick Drake’s angst bag of tricks. If every song is going to be breathy & hover in one moody tone the audience will fade. Every tune has potential — few were fully realized.

What’s excellent? “One and Only,” & “With You” possess Bristol Crème-like vocals of Bird York & Adele, but few ever take off. These do. That’s a pacing issue not a song quality issue. It needs to resonate. These are strictly for listening – for someone who may be lost or doesn’t want to be found.

Finally, “Drugstore Houses,” has wonderful lyrics. One of Garrett’s best vocals. “Did you ever make it out of here…?” Catchy, hooky, more of this. More.

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