Catherine Feeny has called Portland home since 2008, but her music career stretches far beyond the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. She was raised in Philadelphia, and jump-started her songwriting career in L.A. shortly after college. In L.A., she became a regular at Hollywood’s famed Hotel Café, and later had songs featured in the 2006 movie Running with Scissors and the T.V. show “O.C.” She met her future producer and husband, Englishman Sebastian Rogers, at the venue and moved over to Norwich for a few years before settling in Portland and getting married.
I saw Feeny play live at Mississippi Studios in Portland last Thursday (March 14, 2013) with her full band. It was a perfect setting for her songs—which are lyrically compelling, and cradled by both delicate and drastic melodies. She was backed by drums and bass, which were so soft they seemed inaudible at times. Rogers also joined the lineup, fleshing out the music with his acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, and filling the space between songs with British witticisms. Pretty much anything he said seemed funny.
Feeny played the ukulele for the majority of the show, which never lost its preciousness and allowed her voice to stake out the spotlight. Her vocals dipped, turned, soared and brought to mind all kinds of indie-chic contemporaries from Ingrid Michaelson, to Feist, to Liz Phair. Still, her influenced inflections never seemed forced. She may have gleaned some stylings from these other ladies, but it is safe to say Feeny has found her own voice.
Among Feeny’s many character-building moments is her story of travelling to New York in October, 2011 to participate in Occupy Wall Street, sleeping for days in Zuccotti Park with her husband. The experience inspired her latest album “America,” which was recorded in Portland and features the anthemetic track “United,” which you can hear and see below. This was one of the most powerful songs of the evening.