Album Reviews

Susan Cattaneo

The Hammer & the Heart

Artist:     Susan Cattaneo

Album:     The Hammer & the Heart

Label:     Jersey Girl Music

Release Date:     08.25.2017

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With the Hammer & the Heart we have a double-disc release from one of the lyricist lynchpins of the recent Nashville TV series. Susan Cattaneo marks her fourth release with a double album that is, in effect, a simple electric/acoustic dichotomy, with one track, “Work Hard, Love Harder,” as the centrepiece, popping up on both discs.

Forty musicians gave their time and talent to the project which at times screams rock-inspired before turning mellow, soulful and tender at others. Whatever Cattaneo is doing and wherever she may be going here, one thing shines clearly: her purposeful, colorful lyrical strength coupled with a percussive, driving rhythmic style and delivery.

US Telecaster king Bill Kirchen turns in his usual guaranteed-quality work on one track while the Bottle Rockets, Jim Henry and UK guitarist Davey Knowles also slip easily into the groove elsewhere. Many much-loved Americana sidemen and women also add their skills to the album and provide an anchor that grounds the release firmly and confidently.

In the past, Catteneo has leaned towards the modern-country style of lyricism and aural delivery but here, free of televisual shackles, she ranges widely, pulling in influences and feelings that cross genres and yet always remain her own. Cattaneo has previously been nominated for a number of awards in the independent music category and it would come as no surprise if she actually snags one with this top-notch offering.

—Iain Patience

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