Norma Tanega

Walkin' My Cat Named Dog

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Tanega's rare debut album, reissued in 1998 on CD, isn't bad, though it's not a major effort, and seems like it could have benefited from more polish in the vocal department especially. "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" is here, of course, and the only track virtually any listener would know. Many of the cuts have a peculiar, if only in retrospect, blend of folky guitar and harmonica with full New York pop-rock-soul arrangements. Tanega's talents are moderate but appealing: decent melodies, even-tempered and slightly quirky folk-rock lyrics, and a low vocal range that's a bit out of the ordinary. Her vocals are erratic enough, however, to wonder if the album was recorded hastily, or at least if she had some serious trouble staying on pitch, particularly on the high notes. Some of the cuts are on or above the level of "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" musically, if lacking the attention-getting lyrical hook of that song's title. "You're Dead," for instance, is fairly gutsy, moody folk-pop, while "A Street That Rhymes at 6 AM" is probably the cut that would have been most likely to follow up "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" with its rather AM-savvy tune. (In fact, it was the follow-up, but was not a hit.) At its worst, especially "What Are We Craving?" with its Napoleon XIV-like percussion, this album can be grating, and somehow Tanega and Norma Kutzer end up with the songwriting credit for "Hey Girl," the song that was popularized by Leadbelly as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" The liner notes mention a non-LP single Tanega did for New Voice, "Bread," and it's too bad that and any other non-LP New Voice cuts were not added to the CD edition.

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