Florida singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cat Ridgeway takes listeners on a journey from blues to rock to R&B to pop on “Nice to Meet You,” an EP she released late last year. But what makes it a trip worth taking is not just that diversity but also the expression and range she shows throughout the seven tracks.
Ridgeway — who complements her rich vocals with her own guitar, percussion, trumpet, synthesizer and mandolin — is joined by a song-first cast of backing players, laying down soulful, easygoing grooves for her to build upon. The opening track, “Giving You Up,” is a warm invitation that closes with a blues-gospel-rock rave-up. “Nobody” is breezy, catchy and upbeat, and horns, as they do throughout the EP, percolate, recalling The Memphis Horns’ contributions to classic Stax Records sides.
“Whiskey Lullabies” is a standout, with Ridgeway’s jazz phrasing on the verses balanced with Jackson 5-esque choruses. “Mississippi Sunborn” is wispy, delicate, vulnerable and sublime, while “Sweet Like Candy” takes a pop turn, but its sugariness is real, not saccharine.
On “Juliana Money,” Ridgeway depicts a quirky woman dancing in a flapper dress and wishes she had her same lack of self-consciousness: “Oh, to not care to be aware of anything anyone has to say.”
The cadence of Lily Allen, the Southern soul of Susan Tedeschi and the jazz-pop restraint of Norah Jones might offer entry points for new listeners on “Nice to Meet You,” but Ridgeway’s creative spark and gift for emoting are what truly make her an artist worth watching.