|Singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon didn’t officially launch a solo career until well into her mid-20s. Yet over the last few years, she’s amassed quite the discography, including a series of big-name collaborations. It may all be thanks to her one-of-a-kind vocals, which are equal parts gorgeous and utterly beguiling.
The singer starts up
Le Bon was born on March 4, 1983 in Penboyr, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Growing up, she learned to sing in both English and Welsh. In fact, she sung her first EP, entitled Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg, entirely in Welsh. But even a year before that debut, Le Bon already had some famous admirers. In 2007, Gruff Rhys, of the band Super Furry Animals, invited Le Bon to serve as the opening act for a solo tour of the U.K. That outing was just one of many collaborations in Le Bon’s early career. In 2008, she partnered with the band Neon Neon on the single “I Lust U.” She also appeared on singer Richard James’ 2010 album We Went Riding. In 2007, she lent her vocals to Road Map of The West, the solo album from Funeral for a Friend’s Matt Davies. However, by 2009, Le Bon was focused almost exclusively on her solo career, as her debut album Me Oh My debuted that October. The LP featured only minimal Welsh recordings and received rave reviews from the likes of Pitchfork.
Going solo at last
Even as she supported her album into 2010 and beyond, Le Bon still made time for the odd collaboration or two. That same year, she appeared on a number of tracks on Tethered for the Storm, the sophomore release from the band The Gentle Good. In 2011, she recorded music with singer Meilyr Jones (of Race Horses) and contributed vocals to Boom Bip’s single “Do as I Do.”. But Le Bon never lost focus on her solo work, and by January 2012 she had released her second album, Cyrk. Whereas her debut had been much darker sonically and emotionally, Cyrk demonstrated more of Le Bon’s pop sensibilities, with loads of great melodies and lyrical insights. After touring behind the LP for several months, Le Bon released a follow-up EP called Cyrk IIin August 2012. In early 2013, Le Bon decided to relocate from her native Wales to Los Angeles, hoping to work with new producers on her third studio album.
New sounds, new scenes
In November 2013, Le Bon unveiled album No. 3, Mug Museum. The 10-track effort was produced by Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom) and Josiah Steinbrick (Adam Green and Charlotte Gainsbourg). Much like its predecessors, the album became a critical favorite and made it to the top of year-end lists from the likes of NPR’s Bob Boilen and NME. The same month as Mug Museum’s release, Le Bon appeared on Harlem River, an album from up-and-coming singer/guitarist Kevin Morby. Also in the fall, she contributed vocals to Nobody Knows., the sophomore release from eccentric blues singer Willis Earl Beal. Le Bon also extensively collaborated with the band Manic Street Preachers. That fall, she supported the band during a U.K. tour and later sang on a couple of tracks from its album Rewind the Film. Le Bon’s schedule also included plenty of touring in the U.S. and Europe.
A momentous holiday
In August 2015, Le Bon launched perhaps her most high-profile collaboration to date. Teaming with singer/guitarist Tim Presley (better known to indie rock fans as White Fence), the pair released an album as DRINKS entitled Hermits on Holiday. The LP received rave reviews, and in support the duo briefly toured in the U.K. and U.S.
After wrapping up those dates, Le Bon turned her attention back to releasing a new album. Crab Day arrived on shelves in April 2016 and saw Georgeson and Steinbrick return as producers. When Le Bon launched a supporting tour that summer 2016, it was designed to be a “live experience,” complete with costume changes and live improvisation.