CATE LE BON at the Drake Underground (1150 Queen West), Tuesday (January 21), doors 8 pm. $12.50. RT, SS, TF.
Welsh singer/songwriter Cate Le Bon's latest full-length, Mug Museum, is delicately elegant. Her voice, most often compared to Nico's, is comforting and friendly - just right for a rainy afternoon.
When Le Bon answers the phone outside a New Orleans tour stop, she sounds like an extension of the persona on her jangly, 60s-inspired sleepy pop.
"I've actually just woken up," she confesses with a giggle. "When you called, I realized I wouldn't have to help with load-in."
But it's not all laughs. Peel away the cozy, charming layers of Mug Museum and you'll find tales of pain and disillusionment. Pensively, Le Bon details how she wrote the record in the wake of her maternal grandmother's death.
"It's not meant to be morbid, but there was a period of reflecting on who I was," she says. "I had to figure out if my role was worth something in this chain of females in my family."
Le Bon's reflections quickly turned so intensely introspective that she began to question the meaning of her existence.
"I was thinking about my own age. There were periods when I stopped and thought, ‘Well, my god, this could just be it [for my career]. Everything I see now could be it.'"
What ultimately helped Le Bon come to terms with her loss and her role as a critically acclaimed singer was playing the album live.
Now midway through an extensive North American and European tour, she seeks a balance between a persona her fans can enjoy and a woman who's still finding her own path.
"I've always been very cagey," she says about sharing such personal songs. "I like to think I write them in a way that they can be applied to many different things. Otherwise, I keep things very close."