SUSAN CATTANEO – LITTLE BIG SKY
2012 – Jersey Girl Music
Susan Cattaneo is the possessor of a melodically expressive voice that seems with comparative ease to be able to get the best out of just about any song that she cares to sing! Her songwriting is very descriptive and able to make her point in such a way that the listener is kept interested regardless of whether the subject matter grabs you or not. On this seven track album there is nothing that can be described as particularly original but she certainly has no limitations in what she is prepared to take on vocally or stylistically. From country music that gets very close to ‘mainstream’ she then delves into a bluesy rock and then back to a countryish pop. I felt that her previous recording, 2011’s ‘Heavan to heartache’was a much stronger recording but she is definitely a talented and versatile ‘roots’musician.
Susan at least had a hand in the writing of all seven songs on this album with three co writes, with Scarlet Keys, Joie Scott and Janice Fitzgerald. She also teaches songwriting, as befits someone with her skills and a knowledge that can be passed on to songwriters of the future. The album was recorded in Nashville and contains some high quality musicians including people such as Glen
Duncan on fiddle and Pat McGrath on electric guitar amongst quite a few others.
There are several problems as I see it with the main one being a production that seems a little over the top at times on songs that may well have benefited from a ‘less is more’ instrumentation. The whole album seems to be very close to the typical feel of the Nashville mainstream but is partially
saved by the variations in tempo, the skillful songwriting and Susans expressive vocals. To give some idea of that variety of songs and tempos the album opens with Let The Music Deliver Me, which kicks off with a heavy guitar sound abetted by a keening violin and Susans strong vocal performance on a hard driving mid tempo rootsy rocker that is a paean to musics ability to cure some of our ills, at least of the mind. The title track Little Big Sky is a really good descriptive, mid tempo story song of someone who has tired of the hustle and bustle of the city and longs for her country roots and is followed by the beautiful country ballad A Place Called Love. Again a highly descriptive tale, this time about someone who has so far been unsuccessful in her search for love, helped along by the sound of a lovely steel guitar. This is followed by a bluesy rocker, another lovely ballad and finally a big production ballad that probably sits most comfortably in an adult pop category rather than country or blues.
Although I haven't given the album a very high rating I can see that many will love it. It is held back by the fact that there are only seven songs, but I do feel there is a large talent at work here who would benefit from a more sparse sound. It is a pretty good album that will definitely encourage me to watch out for Susan Cattaneo in the future, despite this missed opportunity.