Album of the Week: Catherine Howe’s What a Beautiful Place (1971)

Now that Joni Mitchell’s music has been removed from Spotify, you might find yourself yearning for some lovely 70s female folk singer-songwriter type beats. Well, you’re in luck if you’ve never heard of Catherine Howe. The British Howe made a brilliant debut that may have been more well known had the ill-fated record label Reflection not shuttered about a month after their release of the album.

What a Beautiful Place, produced by Bobby Scott, who wrote “A Taste of Honey” (most famously known as the opener to that evergreen bargain-bin classic, Whipped Cream & Other Delights) and produced Roland Kirk’s superb I Talk With the Spirits (1965). Two very different styles, no doubt, but they show the range that Scott was capable of. He plays keys on What a Beautiful Place, adding a delicate (or, as on the title track, jaunty) touch.

If you listen to “Up North”, you will know peace. This is the first real song on the album and a true standout. The London Symphony Orchestra brings a lush and moody accompaniment to “On a Misty Morning”, and they’re also responsible for the “Also sprach Zarathustra”-like prologue, interlude and epilogue to the album that give it a distinct Romantic flavor. “It’s Not Likely” has an epic melody similar to that of Gene Clark’s “Strength of Strings”, always a good thing. “My heart’s in a hundred places,” she sings on “Words Through a Locked Door”, “Part of it’s under a tree / Part of it by a singing brook / And part I kept for me”. Lovely stuff.

According to Howe, the album was recorded in four days and with no overdubs. The brilliant folks at Numero Group saved What a Beautiful Place from obscurity by rereleasing it in 2007. All props to them, and to Howe, who has released music as recently as 2015. We here at GSG Enterprises also stan the sexy bonus track “Let’s Keep It Quiet Now”.

Listen to What a Beautiful Place here, and you’ll think “What a beautiful place.”

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