In the realm of easy labels, Jeri Sapronetti of Akron’s Time Cat is a singer-songwriter. After all, on the surface, the new self-titled album is lined with heart-bent lyrics and raucous rock riffs while keeping a sliver of hope and a cautiously redemptive undertone. However, Time Cat isn’t just another three piece of drums, bass and a six-string with a story to sing.
This is an album simultaneously winsome and worried. Every track genuflects and rises up. These songs, ranging from the predictable to the unmooring, are sassy and romantic, folky and wild. This is a band at ease with its identity and though, at first listen, I heard toe-stubbing detours and superfluous tangents, I couldn’t resist the sonic blend of psych, blues, folk and jazz in the variety of guitar solos.
But let’s not forget that animal behind the kit, Sam Caler, nor the ballast and texture-making on the bass by Colten Huffman. Caler plays with a certain deliberation and effortless expression that makes me feel even I could sound awesome against that banging, while Huffman helps power a resilient simplicity congruent and never interfering with the whimsy and madness of Sapronetti’s guitar. From end to end, the self-titled “Time Cat” feels like the work of a singer-songwriter with a definitive stylistic expectation and a supporting cast that can supply it.
Sapronetti and an 18-year-old Caler got together after Sapronetti came out of her gas-leak, “Syd Barrett-esque state of madness,” got off Pat Carney’s old chair and began hosting in-house jam sessions. Burning out on the nature of all-night jam sessions, Sapronetti quit her job, loaded up her Jeep Cherokee and set off for The Great American Adventure. Given the soul-searching nature of this type of trip, I asked her about whether or not she believed we have a soul. And, if so, what’s it look like? And is hers better than mine? She answered without pause, “Yes. Purple, and yes.”
At any rate, fueling up, she received a text from a strange number that read, “I’ll meet up with you out in Austin and we can become rockstars.” That November, Caler and Sapronetti began playing the five or six songs she’d scratched out “inspired by tumultuous times at the jam house, desert blizzards and obsessive/destructive love affairs.”
Asked about how the band got where it is today, Sapronetti said, “We went on crazy tours, slept in our van in 100-degree desert heat and the freezing, bitter cold of a Great Plains winter to play in front of hilariously small audiences. After much trial and error, we began really finding out how to become better in every aspect of being in a band. Still far from knowing, but still growing, we added young local songwriter and musician Colten Huffman on bass in April 2015. The sound was finally full, and I was finally able to express more precisely what I needed to musically. This last year has seen us play big shows at the Beachland Ballroom, the Grog Shop, the Rialto Theater, Musica, PorchRokr, Nashville clubs and more. We’ve recently had the great pleasure of been filmed by the BBC as part of Chrissie Hynde’s upcoming documentary and opened for A-list actress Juliette Lewis’ rock group, The Licks.”
Taking their moniker from a children’s book of the same name about a boy and his time-traveling cat, the band is well on their way to a successful future inspired by their checkered past.
Catch Time Cat live at Musica for their album release party September 17 at 9 pm.