Album Review: Susan Cattaneo – The Hammer & The Heart

Boston based Susan Cattaneo is one of the most respected and revered singer-songwriters of our time with a healthy back catalogue to her name as well as a widely respected career within the music industry. After what must have felt like an eternal wait for many of her fans, Cattaneo has emerged with her stunning new double album The Heart and the Hammer.

Most artists would gather up their material and pick the very best of it to set to an album – and if they have too many songs, then perhaps some of them wait a year or two until the next album is out. Not Cattaneo though, she’s not making her fans wait again; instead she opted to put it all together and produce this incredible double disc delight. The result is an album that rumbles to life with the roaring country ballad Work Harder Love Harder, a raucous and quite frankly fun tune that gets your blood pumping while reminding you what is really important in life. Cattaneo brings a versatile collection of sounds to life as she surrounds her smooth, soulful voice with a whirlwind of sound. Drawing on a variety of influences her music adopts elements from country, folk, soul and even traces of funk. Her voice floats effortlessly above wild guitar medleys and resonant bass lines that come crashing down like waves but she is also more than capable of applying the brakes when she simply sets herself a reliance on a soft and tender guitar melody, perhaps the gentle tinkling of a piano.

Cattaneo isn’t simply a singer-songwriter, she is a powerfully talented storyteller with an uncanny ability to lift her words up off of the page and send them drifting through the air and into your heart. Her tender lullaby melodies sit alongside her deep and resounding rocked up country tunes like islands in a choppy ocean. Indeed The Heart and the Hammer plays itself out like a small adventure whereby you and transported from island to island, each one sitting in a different time and place. Songs such as Fade to Blue place you in a gentle, luscious area that’s bright, breezy and calming – perhaps you’re laying in a field staring up and an ocean of stars which songs such as In the Grooves erupt to life with a rich Rockabilly vibe that whisks you off to a 50s diner with an illuminated juke box in the corner. It is these juxtapositions of sound that make her album so incredible as it showcases her tender storytelling abilities whilst also showing her immense musical talent and allowing the true depths of her powerful voice to be obtained as she belts her words out to the gods.

The Heart and the Hammer is a tender, loving album with a deep and powerful message that this world needs to hear. Overflowing with rich and rocky country tunes, Cattaneo has drawn influence from every genre and walk of life to create a versatile and contemporary set of tunes that has something to suit the taste of everyone.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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