Record Reviews

Kelly Catlin: Backstory Review

(Independent) Decidedly a departure from classical repertoire, Kelly Catlin’s Backstory is a contemporary electro-acoustic flute album with semi-cinematic songs that could beautifully soundtrack the imaginative pastoral settings of Studio Ghibli animations. By its very nature, the flute’s sound is weightless and spritely, lending itself to delicate cottagecore-reminiscent melodies like “Lilac and Snapdragon.” Expanded from a score originally written for the Off-Off-Broadway production Magic the Play, “Into the Forest” is a fantasy flute epic with poetic narration that describes a kingdom whose magic must be restored. Capturing the curiosity and nostalgia of childhood, the four-movement suite “Memory” recollects settings through auxiliary sounds: songbird chirps and youthful laughing on “Backyard,” seagull squawks and wave swooshes on “Shore,” stage queue narration and audience clapping on “Backstage,” and plane engine noise and bike bells on “Marketplace.” The album was mastered by Annie Leeth, and is accompanied by sheet music for flutists. Catlin holds a doctorate of musical arts in flute performance with a minor in composition from UGA, and the dissertation work behind Backstory was supported by a 2021 Graduate Research Award scholarship from the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. In addition to composing and teaching, she is the founder of Millennium, a multimedia pop orchestra that performs genre-bending works against animation projections.