From the overwhelming feelings of first-time parenthood to enduring love and societal pressures, Katie Doherty's long-awaited second album focuses on change, something she's no stranger to herself. When her acclaimed first album was released over a decade ago, life steered Doherty away from recording and towards theatrical composition and musical direction. The world has indeed changed since her debut, and her writing has no doubt benefited by the hiatus of studio work.
Alongside her alluring Sean-nós singing and capacious folk instrumentation there's unrivalled depth to her lyrics that stands her apart from many contemporaries. I'll Go Out bears a resemblance to a blithe drinking song, but the melodeon gives a sombre edge to the track that makes it a cautionary tale. Yours beautifully weaves in a traditional folk arrangement with romantic longing and a feeling of monachopsis. Although the album may start on a regretful tone that eclipses the notion of positive change, Navigator is a whirlwind of romanticism and self-belief that casts us adrift before wrapping us in an enriching safety net. Here, as before, the arrangement is just as illustrative as the lyrics, with the thrum of Will Hammond's undulating Cajon steering its course. Rose in Winter is another track that signals metamorphosis in the way of death and the beginning of life - depending on how you interpret it. It's another of the album's tracks that are influenced by Doherty's theatrical background and highlights her skill as a composer and not just a songwriter.
Hidden away towards the end of the record is the gem of the album, Angry Daughter. It's an empowering feminist anthem that embraces resilience in the face of inequality. However, it isn't about #metoo or fighting for change, the track's strength is in it unapologetic and dignified stoicism.
While her fans may have despaired at her Kate Bush style recording sparsity, And Then is a welcome return for Katie Doherty that has been well worth the wait.
Groupie rating 4/5