Katie Bennett speaking louder on 'Talking Quietly of Anything with You'
On Talking Quietly of Anything with You, from 2016, Katie Bennett fills her songs with novelistic details, logging everything from those minute questions that start to swirl as one ages (“What will we keep on our coffee table?”) to the price of single-ride subway fare ($2.25).
“I thought about a lot of those songs as documents. ‘What am I thinking?' ‘What am I feeling?'” said Bennett, 25, who opens for Adult Mom at Double Happiness on Friday, June 30. “Even things like the price of a [train] token are interesting to me. When I was reading [Allen] Ginsberg in high school, or even Frank O'Hara, they'd talk about the price of lunch or something, and I always thought those details were kind of funny and gave an idea of the time period in which the person was writing.”
Recorded in 2015 with Chris Daly at Salvation Recording Co. in upstate New York, the album catalogs three years of Bennett's life beginning at age 20, with the track list sometimes aging the musician in reverse, like a guitar-slinging Benjamin Button (“All You Gotta Be When You're 23 Is Yourself” is immediately followed by “Chubby Cows,” where Bennett sings of being 22 and doodling in a journal).
“People will say, ‘Oh, it feels like you're trying to figure it out on this record.' Or, ‘It sounds like you're trying to find some sense of identity,'” said Bennett, who grew up in a small town in south New Jersey, raised by an investment broker father and a school psychologist mother. “I'd written most of [these songs] between the ages of 20 and 23, which is a pretty significant time of transformation in most people's lives. I think it's natural I would be thinking and writing about those things.”
Though Bennett has long loved music — she recalled wanting to be a full-fledged pop star at age 8, singing a cappella songs onto an admittedly low-budget tape recorder, and she started playing guitar at age 12 — the idea of pursuing a career as a musician remained on the backburner into early adulthood.
“I had a lot of pressure from my parents to go to school and go to college, and since it seemed like writing was something I could make a career, I focused on that instead,” Bennett said.
The musician finally ditched the desk for the stage after she started attending concerts more regularly at age 20, describing the sensation as “a sinking feeling in my stomach.” “It was like, ‘I need to do that,'” she said.
In the years since, Bennett, the lone constant in the shifting Free Cake lineup (the current version exists as a three-piece), has sharpened and refined her approach, moving from hushed, raw, stream-of-consciousness tunes to more carefully considered numbers that sound geared to concert halls rather than bedrooms.
“I'm not mellowing out, but I'm growing older and maybe a little more intentional [in my approach],” she said. “It's still the words first and then the music, but I also think there are a couple songs on the record that are starting to get a little louder. And I like that.”