[BEDROOM FOLK] There’s a sense of quiet Western solitude in Cait Olds’ work. The Portland-via-California songwriter recorded full-length debut Prison City at Materials to Outlet, Jake Kelly’s home studio in North Portland. And a home is where Olds belongs, her muted bedroom folk as much a diary entry as a delicate batch of sparse, daydreaming Americana.
Prison City is minimalist throughout. Highlights “Indio” and “Hard to Say” stretch the acoustic folk model some, incorporating melodica and brass. Other songs, like “I Know,” come off somewhat derivative, its loose and pluralized chorus dangerously similar to Cat Power’s “After It All.”
The musician Olds resembles most, perhaps, is Icelander Ólöf Arnalds. The two share an audible self-confidence, propped up by the quiet guitars they strum. Olds sings of folly, addiction and forgiveness without masking things in a heavy cloak of instrumentation. “My baby’s got a little habit, some say my cross to bear/ I’m full of fear, he might be dead this time next year,” Olds confesses on the haunting, cabaret-tinged “Heroin Cloud.”
The tumbleweed and barbed wire of the American West appear in “Stormin’,” a countrified number enriched by lap steel and Olds’ whispered, faintly yodeled vocals. It’s the most promising track on a record that sways between simple beauty and simplicity itself.
SEE IT: Cait Olds plays Secret Society, 116 NE Russell St., with Barry Brusseau on Saturday, Oct. 20. 9 pm. $5. 21+.