If there is one constant in the work of singer-songwriter Sawyer Gebauer, it is change. Moving to Sweden from Wisconsin at only 19, he formed and fronted the mercurial Brittsommar, a musical entity that took off in Europe. With a rotating cast of musicians, Sawyer released Brittsommar’s first LP, the dark and atmospheric Day Of Living Velvet in 2011 before relocating to Berlin. There he recorded 2013’s The Machine Stops in a dilapidated warehouse.
An avid traveler, Sawyer crossed the ocean between Europe and the U.S. 18 times within a handful of years. Eventually, he resettled on home soil and recorded the Mary Me EP (2015) at TRI Studios in San Rafael, California. This, ultimately, was to be Brittsommar's final album.
Meanwhile, an alternate course was unfolding, a path that necessitated letting go of an identity once embraced. After turning Brittsommar’s last page, Sawyer's new project, Catch Prichard saw its first light.
Catch Prichard recorded the album in one week at Decibelle Recordings in San Francisco. On March 5th, the final day of recording, the world shed its battered and torn chrysalis and began an unprecedented epoch. Covid-19 had swept the lands of previous knowledge and washed to the shores of the future. We left a world we barely understood for a world we do not recognize. In a reality where we no longer are able to see who we wish, go where we wish, love as we wish, or live as we wish, we are all shouting to be heard above the din of solitude. Throughout the week of recording I Still Miss Teresa Benoit, Sawyer felt feverish, fatigued, foggy, and unfocused. His voice lost its flexibility, as if something kept pulling his breath into his throat before his lungs got its share. He was coping with a mysterious sickness he had never before experienced, including the loss of taste and smell. It wasn’t until the evidence started to be published, that he learned these were all symptoms of Covid-19, and that the album had been recorded under the odious influence of this cryptic virus. I Still Miss Teresa Benoit is a product of the pandemic. The band debated re-recording Sawyer’s vocals because of how the virus had affected his voice, but they realized this was an important time in human history, and they had captured it.
I Still Miss Teresa Benoit is Catch Prichard’s most expansive album to date, weaving the divergent musical genres and literary themes that have influenced the band's career. The record is structured as a delicate arc that slowly climbs and gracefully falls. It opens with the soft and beautiful track “Cherry Bomb,” which makes us define archetypal influence and question our innate fate through layered, lush synths behind Sawyer’s haunting, low vocals. The following tune “IamamI” carries a dark, slow burn of a piano that slips into “Commander,” with a light Rhodes progression that ends with tranquil chaos. “Lipstick and Fur” is a big Tango swing that swells with rich strings and powerful horn arrangements, and as you near the top, “Woman” brings us to Sawyer’s original country/folk origins with beautiful strings, sweeping drums, and a playful têt-à-têt between electric guitar and pedal steel. The album’s descent curves to its beginnings, with “Lawless Land,” a song nostalgic for faraway places yet having nowhere to go. With the lines “Going down to Mexico in a fine German car” and “America died in the dark,” it plays like a dark comedy lit with a delicate backdrop. “Worried Man” is sweet and low-down, floating just out of reach by the robust horn arrangements, and grounded by confessional lyrics of relentless self-doubt, and the need to dive into the self in order to let go. The album concludes with a striking track titled “A Reef of Dead Metaphors,” referencing our collective refusal to learn from history and the urge to rewrite a past that can no longer sustain a future. The blend of indulgent piano, melodic orchestral strings, and clear pedal steel leads you to the albums finale.