|Susan Cattaneo — Haunted Heart (2014)|
Susan Cattaneo — Haunted Heart
Boston singer–songwriter Susan Cattaneo feeds from the same table as Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters, Amy Speace and others of similar ring craft attributes.
Location: Medford, MA ~ Boston, Massachusetts
Album release: January 21, 2014
Record Label: Jersey Girl Music
01. Haunted Heart Prelude 0:45
02. Abide 3:37
03. Lorelei 2:57
04. Worth The Whiskey 4:28
05. Revival 3:57
06. Lies Between Lovers 4:08
07. Memory Of The Light 3:39
08. Queen Of The Dancehall 4:32
09. Barn Burning 5:32
10. Haunted Heart 3:16
11. Done Better 4:51
12. Ingenue 3:59
13. John Brown 3:50
14. How A Cowboy Says Goodbye 3:14
15. Hidden Heart 1:56
Kevin Barry (Ray LaMontagne), Lyle Brewer (Ryan Montbleau) Stu Kimball (Bob Dylan) Duke Levine (J. Geils Band), Richard Gates (Melissa Ferrick) and Jimmy Ryan, along with the some amazing out of towners, Kenny White (Peter Wolf, Shawn Colvin) on keys and Marco Giovino (Buddy Miller, Robert Plant) on drums.
PAUL WALLEN | JANUARY 13TH, 2014 | Score: ****½
♣ Meet the new Susan Cattaneo, moved by personal trauma and steadfast in artistic vision.
♣ A couple years ago, Cattaneo found herself performing CPR on a woman who fainted and fell down the stairs in her Boston home. She heard police say the woman would not survive the injuries to her head and neck. As it turned out, however, the woman’s life was saved by Cattaneo’s emergency aid and the speedy arrival of first responders. Still, Cattaneo spent the next six months in the grip of post–traumatic stress disorder, trying to shake a fear of impending death at every turn. Ultimately, she emerged with a stronger sense of self and a more intimate approach to songwriting.
On her new album, an emboldened Cattaneo saunters through our darkest recesses, illuminating feelings we like to pretend we don’t have. Fear, anger and despair have rarely sounded so exquisite.
♣ The first verse of the album’s title track doubles as an 45–second elegant prelude: “Caught in a haunted heart / Circling back to find the mark / The moment I knew I belonged to the dark / Caught in a haunted heart,” Cattaneo sings softly, setting the stage for 13 original songs to come. The prelude’s piano quickly gives way to a pulsating beat on “Abide,” with tension building throughout a brooding take on black blizzards of the Dust Bowl era until Cattaneo belts out: “They said that rain would follow the plow / But that tight–fisted sky won’t give up clouds!”
The bright, skipping “Lorelei” seems to offer a break from the gloom until you realize it’s a maniacal murder ballad about envious twin sisters, and there you are tapping your toe to lines like “Come down, come close to the water’s edge / And I’ll drag you down into my river bed /And then you’ll die, just like I died / Lorelei.”
♣ “Worth the Whiskey,” co–written with Jillian Cardarelli, turns the typical country music drinking–in–a–bar scenario into a cheeky, defiant anthem, as Cattaneo growls, “Take a sip for every time you lied and kissed me.”
♣ Those three songs form a powerful opening to the album, one that demands repeat listens. However, those who listen to the entire album straight through are rewarded handsomely. Cattaneo and producer Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Ronnie Earl) have created an unbroken contrast of shadow and beauty; the songs rise from an earthy rhythm, one bleeding into the next. The detailed vision extends to extravagantly photographed and designed packaging, making a hard copy worth the investment — especially for the booklet of lyrics that allows you to trace Cattaneo’s nimble command of language. “Lies Between Lovers,” for example, flips the meaning of the title phrase from a lack of honesty to the children caught in the middle of warring parents: “Temper flaring like a cigarette / And little ones between us taking cover / That’s what lies between lovers.”
♣ The brutally honest ballad “Done Better” chastises the man of a broken home for not living up to promises made. The bewitching “Queen of the Dancehall” is a recreation of the character in Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger” as a female with a scar on her cheek, given to her by “a man with a hard whiskey temper” and who longs to forget “the endless blue eyes of her daughter.”
♣ Though it falls squarely into the Americana realm, Haunted Heart eschews fiddle and banjo for liberal doses of keyboards and electric guitar that lend a roots rock groove. The backing band includes familiar names such as Kevin Barry (acoustic guitar, pedal steel, nylon string guitar, high strung guitar, lap steel, slide guitar), Lyle Brewer (electric and acoustic guitar), Richard Gates (bass), Marco Giovino (drums, percussion, tambourine) and Kenny White (piano, synth, organ). They get a well–earned shout–out (“How ’bout a hand for that band!”) at the very end of the undocumented 15th track, a two–minute instrumental cleverly called “Hidden Heart.”
♣ Cattaneo’s career includes three previous albums, numerous writing credits and 13 years as a songwriting professor at Berklee College of Music, but she admits to bending her music to fit in with the mainstream country market in the past. The scary accident two years ago unleashed a torrent of darkness that became Haunted Heart, her most honest and mature work to date. Cattaneo should step into the light long enough to take a bow for creating what will stand as one of 2014’s best albums. (http://www.engine145.com/)
Notes: Paul Wallen is a freelance music writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. Since beginning his career as a military journalist, he has worked as an editor, writer and designer at newspapers such as The Baltimore Sun, San Diego Union Tribune and Huntsville Times. He is currently Creative Director of Bay Magazine at the Tampa Bay Times.
Written by Lee Zimmerman | February 13th, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Score: 4
♣ A Boston based singer–songwriter, Susan Cattaneo boasts some impressive credentials. Aside from her stint as a professor of songwriting at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music for the past 13 years, she’s released three albums up until this point that have cast her in the role of a pop chanteuse, one who occasionally leans towards the darker side of everyday circumstance. Her new effort, Haunted Heart, is, as its title implies, similarly troubled in spots, but with its tilt towards a kind of pop Americana, it also finds her adopting a swagger and sway that clearly shows new confidence.
♣ Seductive at times — as evidenced by such songs as “Queen of the Dancehall” and “Abide” — Cattaneo is also unafraid to let her vulnerability show. The pretty and pensive “Memory of the Light,” the wistful rebuke “Done Better” and a coolly crooned tale of final farewell, “How a Cowboy Says Goodbye” all express in no uncertain terms the anguish of remorse and regret from singular points of view. The title track itself sounds like it could become a standard, its dreamy organ–drenched melody resonating with the remnants of some lingering emotional carnage.
♣ Ultimately it’s rare to find an artist so willing to invest her psyche so fully into her songs, but the return on Cattaneo’s commitment also makes for a compelling set of songs. Haunted Heart provides a consistently steady pulse.
by Dan Harr | November 11, 2013
♣ Susan Cattaneo’s fourth long player entitled ‘Haunted Heart’ has been released independently on January 21, 2014. After years of successfully writing for other artists, and three critically acclaimed records, the Boston based artist has turned inward to write intimate and revealing songs for her upcoming release, resulting in her most personal album to date. A master of her craft and Songwriting Professor at the Berklee College of Music, Cattaneo brings New England Americana songs with a twang. ♣ Respectful of tradition, but not bound by it, Susan’s rootsy vibe blends a little bit of rock, folk and blues with a healthy dose of country.
♣ Produced by Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Ronnie Earl, Mark Erelli), the album features a stellar cast of musicians from the national Americana scene. Acoustic, electric and all sorts of steel guitars are provided by Duke Levine (Peter Wolf, J. Geils Band, Garland Jeffreys, Mary Chapin Carpenter), Kevin Barry (Roseanne Cash, Ray LaMontaigne, Mark Cohn) Lyle Brewer (Ryan Montbleau) and Stu Kimball (Bob Dylan). The rhythm section includes Richard Gates (Susanne Vega, Melissa Ferrick) on bass, Kenny White (Peter Wolf) on keyboard and Marco Giovino (Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Band of Joy) on drums.
♣ Of ‘Haunted Heart’ Cattaneo remarks, “So all these songs poured out of me that are extremely personal. Some of them, you wouldn’t know because I’m a writer and I disguise things in metaphor. But what I love about this album and the experience of making it is that it made me more honest in my songwriting than I’ve ever been. It made me care even more, but about different things. It was all about trying to put the most honest song forward.” (http://www.musicnewsnashville.com/)
By Maurice Hope | Friday, 13 December 2013 | Score: 8
|Susan Cattaneo — Haunted Heart (2014)|