Track By Track: Garrett Kato Breaks Down His New Album ‘Small Town Rituals’

Small Town Rituals is the new album from indie-folk songwriter and performer Garrett Kato. The nine-track collection is Kato’s most vulnerable body of work to date. Kato wrote and produced the album himself, recording in his home studio. He primarily operated on hardware, giving the record vintage warmth and intimacy.

Kato says that the creation of Small Town Rituals gave him a chance to look “forward and back upon my life and gain new perspectives on things.” Here, Kato provides a track by track breakdown of the album for Music Feeds.

Garrett Kato – Small Town Rituals

1. Drugstore Houses

After a European tour, Riley Pearce and I have become fast friends and it was only natural to write something together. Over a Zoom call mid-pandemic we dived into our childhoods and what the differences were between growing up in Canada and Western Australia.

We began to chat about how when we were younger the only thing that mattered was getting out and seeing the world beyond the confines of our small towns. It describes in detail the reminiscent qualities of growing up in a town with nothing to offer but boredom and trouble.

2. Telephone

I often find myself calling to others from distant places for advice in my life, be it fatherhood advice or what to do or advice on not giving up. This song is a story from the perspective of someone who loses touch with someone special due to distance, both physically and emotionally. A story that is and will be as old as time itself.

3. With You

Looking up to others is natural while growing up. Often we look at these people like superheroes only to find out once we are older that they are, in fact human – full of mistakes and challenges they face of their own. I was once the one looking up. Now, I am one looking down at my little ones who are walking through the darkness and the light with me.

Garrett Kato – ‘Drugstore Houses’

4. Disappearing Light

I wanted to write a song to remind myself that not everything in life will go to plan and it’s easier if you accept the changes with open arms. Almost like a trance, I was swept up with all the craziness of the world and realised I don’t need to worry about places I don’t live and people I’ll never know. It’s nice to find some peace in the world I see, not the world the media wants me to see.

5. One and Only

‘One and Only’ was written in LA with my friend Gian Stone. We opened up to each other about vulnerability in a relationship and the moment when one can truly be one’s self with someone. The song unfolds like most relationships with expectation and reality colliding into each other with a moment of clarity that you are enough for someone and that is all you need to be for them.

6. Secrets

‘Secrets’ discusses mental health and the risk of keeping your troubles to yourself – “Having lost two of my friends to suicide, I wish I could’ve been there more and been able to help them with their struggles.” Being able to open up to people is important, as the world seemingly gets bigger and more challenging.

Garrett Kato – ‘Telephone’

7. Rearview Mirror

The rat race of a 9-5 can grind down anyone’s spirit and make you feel like life is one big routine for someone else’s self-interest. ‘Rearview Mirror’ is about looking back and not spending enough time looking forward to what’s next in life.

8. The Grand Optimist

This is the oldest song in the collection. The original demo was recorded almost six years ago and I found it on an old hard drive. Initially I felt that this song didn’t belong to any previous projects, but with this album, it just felt right. This track is mostly about my dad and his powerful optimistic view on the world. He was like most young men, growing up full of mistakes, but he always saw a silver lining around it.

9. Time After Time

I decided to record this version of ‘Time After Time’ after my daughter Mieko fell in love with it. She would ask me to sing it in the house and every time I was practicing or recording. After listening to the song more intimately, I realised the lyrics were masterfully written and perhaps the song wasn’t given the proper artist merit considering the original 80s production. I wanted to record the skeleton of the song with no production; live in a room and with just a guitar.

Further reading

Josh Pyke Breaks Down New Album ‘To Find Happiness’ Track By Track

Casey Barnes ‘Light It Up’: Track By Track

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