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Review: CMAT @ SWX

In a show that chews on popular culture and spits it back at you in bubblegum balls, Dublin's Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, known as CMAT, references everything from ‘Sex and The City’ to football managers in her second album ‘Crazymad, For Me’, which recently hit SWX on the ‘California or Bust’ tour.

By Megan Foulk, Second Year, English

Labelled by NME as 'Dublin's answer to Dolly Parton', it was clear as soon as Thompson entered SWX's stage that she had intentions to take her audience elsewhere. Backed by a huge antique mirror, headed with 'CMAT' in neon lights, the singer appeared armed with tasselled sleeves and sequins and was welcomed with joy by a crowd of cowboy hats and buffed-up leather boots.

Opening with the album's title track 'California', the band eased into the setlist, building up to the powerhouse chorus, a reminder of CMAT's proficiency as a vocalist and a teaser for the rest of the evening, before transitioning into the somewhat melancholy 'I … Hate Who I Am When I'm Horny'.

Throwing some old favourites in from her debut album If My Wife New I’d Be Dead, 'I Don't Really Care For You' encapsulated CMAT's witty talent for observational detail, 'choking back Breezer's' and nodding to fellow Irish talent with 'the Marian Keyes of it all'. Visibly having the time of her life and pausing to giggle mid-song a number of times, the mirror centre stage seemed to be reflecting the artist’s positive energy across the room, infecting one of the most age-diverse crowds I’ve been part of for a while. As the neon letters flitted between green, white and orange and a starry red, white and blue, the audience were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from the cobbled streets of Dublin to the whiskey saloons of Nashville.

Switching seamlessly between the jigging folk violin of ‘Have Fun!’, to the self-reflective ‘Such a Miranda’, the overriding factor that unites all of CMAT’s discography was evident in the facial expressions that filled the venue: her music is joyfully authentic. Heavily saturated with references to popular culture and painfully honest, CMAT manages to capture the mundanity of life and turn it into something that’s beautifully relatable.

Perhaps most evident in the first of the encore songs, ‘Rent’, a ballad that screams of the struggles of failing relationships and rising house prices, CMAT laments the same tribulations we all do, making the audience laugh at the somehow impossibly niche but also hilariously relatable anecdote ‘I found lashes on the DVD case, you said they were mine, said they were mine, never my style, but I didn't wanna get on your wrong side.

Finishing with the powerful ‘Stay for Something’, CMAT ensured the audience left in the knowledge not only that she has potential as a comic, but that she could probably give Adele a run for her money if they both auditioned for The Voice. An all-round glitteringly fun performance, Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson is undoubtedly one to watch and a good gig to take your unsuspecting friends along to next time you need a fix of country-pop. 

Featured Image: Courtesy of Brick London

Have you listened to CMAT?