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CMAT Makes Country Music Sad, Smart and Strange

Mattias Tellez, the album’s producer, said Thompson’s voice was “timeless, and powerful, and so distinct,” displaying “qualities I hear in the likes of Billie Holiday, or Ella Fitzgerald — that power, and control, and spontaneous humor.”

The new album draws on Thompson’s life, looking back on a tumultuous relationship the singer began with an older man when she was in her late teens. It follows her from her lowest and messiest point, before she reckons with the past and decides to move on.

Along the way, she weaves in references to St. Anthony (the finder of lost things — a favorite of Irish mothers), Miranda from “Sex and the City” and the “Wagatha Christie” trial that recently gripped Britain’s tabloids.

The single “Where Are Your Kids Tonight?” sees CMAT collaborate with the singer-songwriter John Grant. The two appeared onstage together in September, at Dublin’s National Concert Hall, where Grant was performing a concert of Patsy Cline covers. CMAT was the guest star, singing “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “She’s Got You.”

In an email, Grant said working with Thompson was “a blast.”

“They absolutely love her in Ireland, and with good reason,” Grant said. “Looks like the rest of the world is catching on.”

CMAT began her career describing herself online, ironically, as “a global pop star” who “lives in Dublin with her grandparents.” Prepandemic, she was working in a cafe: She had no money, and was recovering from a period of depression and disillusionment, after the band she’d formed at 18, Bad Sea, failed to gain traction and split.

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