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Katherine Priddy – The Pendulum Swing, a review

Discover The Pendulum Swings by Katherine Priddy, where heartfelt melodies weave their way through stories of home, love, and belonging.

Katherine Priddy's second album cover for the Pendulum Swing. It features the singer staring through a window with light refracted through it.
Release Date
16 February 2024
Katherine Priddy - The Pendulum Swing
Katherine Priddy's "The Pendulum Swings" tenderly unravels the heart of home with her emotive songs, weaving together love, memories, and the intimate sounds of domestic life, offering a soul-stirring journey into the warmth of belonging.

What is it that makes a house a home? A solid structure? The love of, and for, a family? Memories made together? Warmth and acceptance? Unconditional love? The knowledge that, wherever you go, there’s always a place to go back to? All of these things?

On Katherine Priddy‘s breathtaking album, The Pendulum Swing, the Birmingham-born folkie tries to get to the very heart of her home. She explores all of the above with tenderness and a love as big as the biggest house.

The solid structure is provided by two supporting walls of atmospherics, one at either end. ‘Returning and Leaving’ form a protective shell around the remaining 10 tracks, producer Simon Weaver capturing footsteps, the opening of doors, stair-creaks, muffled chat, a snatch of piano, the very stuff of domestic life. The effect is immediate and emotive, an intimate foreshadowing of the interior world that Priddy opens up before us.  

Just as the hushed ambiance fades, so ‘Selah’ unfolds like a gothic romance. It is opulent and ornate – you can almost see the gold embossed endpapers, the deep reds and greens of the cover – and is beautifully structured. Part dream, part poetic, dizzying ache, it is an epic song, one that takes Priddy’s remarkable folk voice and uses it for its own end. There is something of Julianne Regan and All About Eve in the way that Priddy re-fashions folk singing, making it wholly contemporary. This is, assuredly, a very good thing. Harry Fausing Smith and Polly Virr create great swags of swooping violin and cello which drape around the shoulders of the song, as full of longing and secrecy, of passion and desire as the darkest corners of any house.

The first single taken from the album was ‘The First House on the Left’, an intensely personal song that wonders how others see your cherished childhood home. With the gentle ticking of a clock and whirring, bike-chain percussion, these are the sounds that a house makes when you are all alone. Those tiny, barely noticed noises that make your world. Priddy’s voice is deeper here, warmer, even more comforting, as she casts back to her childhood, aware of the “pendulum swing” that both forces you away and then brings you back. 

For all of the dark-wood loveliness of this album, for all of the nostalgia and rose-tinted recollections, it is a song of heartbreak that should be the enormous, bona fide hit (if hit singles matter at all these days). ‘Does She Hold You Like I Did’ starts with an explosion and a mariachi brass blast before recalling Kirsty MacColl at her finest. Castanets and a Mexican guitar strum give it a swagger and swish that is utterly irresistible. ‘A Boat on a River’ is another augmented with brass, another that sounds reassuringly huge; brick-work solid. Cymbals swell as Priddy declares that she’ll “go where the current takes me”. With a song like this it’s, surely, into countless homes.

The house, itself, so often seems to be the centre of The Pendulum Swing, but when Priddy sings of her own family you understand her thinking about home. ‘Father Of Two’ threatens to slide into over-sweet sentimentality but is entirely saved by Priddy’s honesty and her wonderful voice. ‘Walnut Shell’, on the other hand, is a boisterous, cheeky thing, full of love for a twin. It’s the sound of shared times – good times – times that only two people understand. Even the brass bounce can’t hide the pain of separation though. It is textured and nuanced as any sibling relationship. 

Katherine Priddy is in possession of one of the finest folk voices around, but, as with her debut album, she eschews the tradition. There are, however, moments when her love of folk music peeks through. ‘Northern Sunrise’ is a slice of hazy joy, multi-tracked harmonies and a lovely folk melody. ‘Anyway, Always’ could be the echoes of her folk-rock record collection, hanging in the air outside of her childhood bedroom. Guitars chime and buzz, delicate and conversational. Both of these fit snuggly amongst the bigger, grander visions on this album, proof that, in every home, there’s room for the intimate and the universal.

Undoubtedly, The Pendulum Swing is one of the UK folk scene’s most eagerly awaited second albums. It is a quite remarkable thing, and something that will draw you back, insisting that you stay, over and over again.

The Pendulum Swing, by Katherine Priddy, is out now. Order via the artist’s homepage.