Indie Music Review
By the third track to Cathy Hutch’s album Free Wheelin’ the lyrics to Know It All come to the surface: I’ve got a story to tell…you don’t know me…you don’t know me at all. Dang After listening to the first tracks, I thought I was listening to a kindergarten teacher singing about friendship and chasing dreams. Hutch cranks it up and downright rocks!
Proving once again to never judge a book by its cover, Canada’s Cathy Hutch comes through with a bluesy-country –pop-crossing genre in Free Wheelin’. This is Hutch’s second album. According to her biography, Hutch calls the songs on Free Wheelin’ “both a testament to joy and the resilience of the human spirit.” This is spot on accurate. I found Hutch to be so talented and her lyrics, while some might find a bit corny and too nice, to say what some find so hard to put into words.
Hutch has been compared to having imagined ‘Melissa Etheridge, Pat Benatar and Tanya Tucker as one entity.’ I certainly didn’t feel that vibe until Know It All. I’m glad I kept listening. It’s not that the first two tracks, Carry You Along and Good Friends Like You are bad songs. Certainly not. They are wholesome and more Anne Murray and Kathy Mattea. I liked her point of view – these are very positive songs that most Christian music fans would like. The piano work is also beautiful.
One of the songs that I also enjoyed, In My Life has a more country vibe feel. Hutch’s voice hugs the guitar; the riffs weave in-and-out of her confident voice nicely. It’s like every track her voice showers the listeners with a new layer, a new grittier soul.
Sweet Dave is a sleepy, bluesy shoulder-moving track. This one grew on me and I felt like I could just close my eyes and see legions of dancers hitting the dance floor. What a fun song!
The Best of Me has sexy sax arrangement. Hutch clings to this musical bend like a hot, sultry night. She moves the song along like butter. While the percussion fills the empty spaces, Hutch takes the listener to corridors closed behind speak-easy passwords and hidden desires. She does it with class and dances around the sax and music bed like Cyd Charisse. So good. So good.
The title track definitely has Melissa Etheridge feel. Hutch sings about riding a motorcycle and the guitar is suited for her voice. It’s a great song for getting outside and feeling the breeze. At the same time, it’s a great song to share with friends and sip a few cold ones. In a weird way, this song reminded me of Don Henley’s All She Wants to Do is Dance.
Overall, Cathy Hutch won me over on the majority of the tracks on Free Wheelin’. Her voice has incredible range and you can tell she has a passion for her work. Just like she sings, something tells me that you can’t keep her down.
Cathy Hutch – Free Wheelin’
Valhalla Music Blog
It’s only her second album and with it comes a wide range of ability and strong artistry. Free Wheelin, the newest album from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canadian singer/songwriter Cathy Hutch is a carefree, enjoyable journey of country music and blues-rock. There are hints of Christian music and a whole lotta love. Simply put – she’s entertaining.
Of the 11 tracks on Free Wheelin, the majority are solid showcases for a strong female singer. Hutch’s voice is at times pop-flavored. Other times she’s angelic and folksy. And, she changes things up shifting nicely into a rock realm a la Pat Benatar. Her official biography compares her to Pat Benatar meets Melissa Etheridge meets Tanya Tucker. She’s full of spunk when she needs to be, and Cathy Hutch holds the listener’s attention with every note, spark, and strutting guitar.
“Know It All” is one of the standout songs on Free Wheelin. I also really enjoyed the title track. Both seem to have an edgier vibe and Hutch comes across playful and spirit. As she sings about her “story to tell” in “Know It All,” Hutch is a distinctly different vocalist than in the previous tracks “Carry You Along” and “Good Friends Like You.” While the two differences might sound at odds, Hutch carries the listener through it all in a positive and loving way. Perhaps that’s the most rock and roll thing to do – her voice certainly has the range.
She mixes things up again with the slow moving “Reflections” and “In My Life.” Hutch’s voice holds such hope, and love. It’s a beautiful presentation when she’s locked in with the country guitar – it’s not too twangy, but just enough to frame your mind into sounds of yesteryear like Patsy Cline or even Joni Mitchell. When she gets back into the heavier groove with “Sweet Dave” you’re ready to crank up the tune and spend the night out on the patio. “Sweet Dave” just embodies the sound of summer and under a blanket of stars.
The piano work in “To Say Goodbye” is gorgeous. This song feels very classic country to me, and there’s a hint of steel guitar. It’s very faint, but it’s there.
It’s evident from her words and her talents that Cathy Hutch supports non-profits and champions those on the Autism spectrum. Her music has a simple message, yet, a profound joy. She sets a fine example and it will be a pleasure to continue to follow her career. While she might keep listeners guessing on the genre, listeners will be certain that they are getting all the love and passion from this Canadian songstress.
CATHY HUTCH IS ‘FREE WHEELIN’
Indie band Guru
We’re sitting in a field of green, the wind gently shaking the grass beneath our hands and feet on this warm summer day. A humble guitar strums gentle, folky chords that fill up the air around us. The chords seem to compliment the breeze, easily drifting through the atmosphere and carrying all of our cares and worries away with them. There’s a dash of 12 bar blues in their sway, and just like our closest friends in life, it isn’t going away for nothing – and I mean nothing. Instead, it’s getting stronger, breaking way to a spicy lead guitar that smokes up the field like a wild bonfire on the beach. A melodic poem, almost a sonnet, is sung by the lead singer, a woman after Joni Mitchell’s own heart.
No, this isn’t a scene out of a postmodern watercolor painting. This is just a taste of “Good Friends Like You,” from the new album Free Wheelin’by Cathy Hutch. The splendorous landscape that it dwells in. I wasn’t familiar with her work before I listened to Free Wheelin’, but not only was I taken aback by the level of talent I heard in Hutch and her accompanying band, I was surprised that she had escaped my attention in the years that I’ve been following and covering singer/songwriters.
Much like her heroes Melissa Etheridge and Tanya Tucker, Cathy Hutch isn’t limited by country music’s acoustic, simplistic song structures. Like a fierce wind that propels a tornado, she unleashes an aggressive release of emotion that is only matched by the mammoth size of her bold, electrified blues riffing. To call her a country singer wouldn’t be very fair, and to call her a traditional rock n’ roller would seem a little unfitting as well.
Her sound is deeply steeped in country’s homespun lyrics that are more akin to storytelling than poetic rhyming, but her style is unarguably of the punk rock aesthetic. She’s a rebel, a free spirit, a freewheeling troubadour that can express as much love as she can regret. There’s a self-awareness that demonstrates incredible humility in her music, especially in songs like “Attitude of Gratitude” and “To Say Goodbye.” In “To Say Goodbye,” I almost felt like the guitar was grieving the loss of a lover as much as Hutch was through her lyrics. She’s gripping and enthralling in her prose, and to the point where I could easily see her writing a bestselling book of poetry if she felt inspired to do so.
Cathy Hutch gives us so many flavors and accents to appreciate on Free Wheelin’ that it leaves listeners eager to hear more from the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter, and personally I can’t wait to see how she chooses to follow up this album. There are so many different directions she could choose to go, whether it’s expanding on the band-oriented format we’re hearing now, or perhaps pursuing a more vocal-driven solo sound that centers more on her dynamic range and writing capabilities. Will she tour in support of big names in the country community, or will she take the indie route of playing smaller, more intimate gigs as she has in the past? Whatever she decides, her following is bound to keep growing as she continues to refine her craft
Cathy Hutch is back!
Country music, like many other genres in the larger umbrella of popular music, has often served as a notable flashpoint for a lot of the political and social unrest that has been present during various times in history. Just a little more than a decade and a half ago, the United States’ foray into the War on Terror was essentially soundtracked by a legion of Nashville songwriters eager to support the war effort but unfortunately put into the precarious position of being too closely associated with the American conservative movement (thus alienating half of their intended record-purchasing audience). This isn’t an isolated occurrence. We look to our artists, our actors, our musicians to guide us through the storm when it gets to windy out and we can’t see our way through the lightning and fog. It’s a scary world out there sometimes. Right now, feminism is finally getting the sort of mainstream platform that it has collectively worked tirelessly towards for over a century. In this movement we are being made privy to some truly sensational female songwriters, performers and producers that genuinely have a shot at changing the game for future generations of female artists for the better. One standout on the Canadian side of the border that’s caught my attention most recently is none other than Fredericton, New Brunswick’s own Cathy Hutch, a phenomenally gifted singer and songwriter whose new record Free Wheelin’ pushes the limits of country music to revolutionary territory and brings with it some great rallying cries for the contemporary revolution in equalitarianism that we’re witnessing today.
Cathy Hutch isn’t your typical country singer. Actually, she’s not even your typical musician. In a collection of songs that could sit perfectly fine next to any of your favorite classic rock records as easily as could beside Tanya Tucker or Patsy Cline, Free Wheelin’doesn’t particularly fit into any one genre over another, instead embracing its heterogeneous influences with a fervor that is quite refreshing and aesthetically pleasing to hear. In the title track, a white hot overdriven guitar takes us careening through a furious verse that calls for self-empowerment, tenacity and confidence with a cocky swagger that challenges any of the most amplified macho power anthems you’ve heard in the last decade and beyond. “Reflections of My Life” paints a poignant picture of the yearning and inner conflict that rages when we don’t want to die, but we don’t know how to go on living the way that we always have (and possibly the only way that we know how). There’s a uniquely feminine resolute spirit and backbone that drives all of the passion behind Cathy Hutch’s music and lyrics on Free Wheelin’, and it’s moving not only for women but for my fellow music critics as well to see such a strong contribution from an up and coming artist like this. 2018 needed something to definitively pick up the pace and set the bar for the upcoming decade in popular music, and I think this album does both exceptionally.
Cathy Hutch – Free Wheelin’
No Depression Review
Melding the raw, simple structure of raging alternative rock and the bittersweet serenading of a country temptress, Canadian singer/songwriter Cathy Hutch returns with an incredible new album, Free Wheelin’, which will more than please fans of both genres equally. Listeners familiar with her provocative sound have come to expect (and quite frankly demand) ambitious, cathartic music from this country/rock goddess, and this latest album is guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest in the crowd courtesy of its many layers of harmony and eclectic instrumentalism.
Free Wheelin’, as its name implies, is very much the kind of spirited, purgative album that we all crave when spring begins to turn into summer and our bodies start to ache for moonlit dances beneath a blanket of stars. In the song “Carry You Along,” which brilliantly opens the album and gets the ball rolling, Hutch implores us to keep our nose to the grindstone when it comes to pursuing what we really want in life. Driven by a hardline Memphis blues guitar and a rocking beat that doesn’t give up, she tells us “It doesn’t matter what people say/When you hold the truth in your heart/You don’t need them in your life anyway/They’re just gonna tear you apart,” in the most encouraging tone, as if to grab our hand and yank us away from the negativity that the world can contain. “Know it All” starts off with a brooding hard rock intro and gets the engine revving with some dangerously charming vocals from Hutch. A rebellious, almost grungy acoustic guitar riff creates a vibe of serious attitude, and for a minute this starts to feel a lot more like a college/indie rock record than it does a country album. But that’s really the appeal of Cathy Hutch; you can’t pin her down or box her into any one genre, because as soon as you do, she fires a different color smoke at you just to keep things from getting stale.
Other highlights from Free Wheelin’ include the endearing ballad “In My Life,” which channels the melancholy of blues rock through a Heartland revival manner of delivery, and the slinking “The Best of Me,” a track that turns up the heat with its erotic sax parts and whisper-like singing to create a surprisingly sleek empowerment anthem. There’s really no particular lyrical style that Cathy Hutch employs more than another on Free Wheelin’, but that definitely doesn’t make this record sound scattered or non-cohesive. On the contrary, it adds so much variety in the diverse colors we find in each song, something that neither country nor rock artists seem to be very adept at achieving these days. One point of consistency that this album champions with gusto, however, is setting up a very positive mood for the listener. I absolutely fell in love the tone of this album, which for me evoked a lot of inspiring, feel good themes wrapped up in the strutting blues guitars and angelic vocal tracks. I can’t wait to hear more from Cathy Hutch as her career continues to evolve, and I’ll bet that I’m far from the only one saying that after hearing this awesome new slice of audio gold.
Cathy Hutch Review
The new CD “Free Wheelin’” by Cathy Hutch, was engineered and produced by Paul Milner (Eddy Grant, Keith Richards, Matt Andersen, Glass Tiger) with Geoff Arsenault (Ray Bonneville, Dutch Mason, Matt Andersen) and Chris Corrigan; (Rita MacNeil, Mary Jane Lamond, Matt Minglewood). Recently, after opening for Canada’s First Lady of Country Music, Carroll Baker, at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, NB, Hutch was invited back on stage to sing the closing song with Carroll. Hutch has also performed at numerous theatres and fundraising events throughout the Maritimes including the Playhouse in Fredericton.
“Carry You Along” opens the set with a little of that southern sound that reflects country music but this is not a country album by any means, it’s just spiced with a flavor of the south that’s more steeped in the blues and even some gospel to give it more classic appeal for rock music lovers to enjoy every side of her songs. And this opening track is a gem to get that whole attitude off and running with great results and make you want to hear everything the CD has to offer, which is the mark of any truly great opener. There’s no turning back once you’re into this groove.
“Friends Like You” brings a lot of contrast with it to assure you’re not getting all the same song here. It deals with being blessed to have the right people around and how to keep it that way. It runs into “Know It All” with one of the brightest and most positive tracks Cathy Hutch has managed to record over her last two albums. This contends with anything on the album for a hit single, as it covers the subject of wasting time and how important it is to save the best things for the best people in your life. And out of the several colossal tracks this one sits on the very top shelf.
“Reflections Of My Life” is where the one token cover track comes in and evens out the overall sound of the album with a very respectable version of the hit by Marmalade way back in the late sixties. Hutch’s version doesn’t vary much from the original, except to say that female vocals adds an automatic difference when you hear it, and Hutch’s band surely surpass the chops of the original. But her own originals are more of what it’s all about, and “In My Life” brings with it a chance to prove that to anyone feeling covers are just filler, which the former is not, but it is followed by more excellence of her own.
“Attitude Of Gratitude” is one of the most rocking songs, but at the same time it’s the most lyrically grounded. There’s a message in this song that speaks for the whole album, and you just have-to hear it all to either concur or not that Hutch is a premiere talent and an old soul worth recommending. And if that doesn’t impress, the title track “Free Wheelin’” and the rest will seal the deal for anyone looking for new and old-style music in the same hot release.
Cathy Hutch is back!
Cathy Hutch returns with her second full-length CD release – Free Wheelin’, and it’s a powerful statement with 11 Blues Rock and Classic Rock originals and one Classic Rock cover. These tracks all smoke with the best around. Hutch has worked with first rate musicians and producers since her debut CD, and this new release is a natural progression resulting in a big step up for this 2008 Diane London Award winner of an Oscar for Autism for a song she co-wrote.
“Carry You Along” comes blazing in with an organ that gets taken over by the commanding voice of Hutch, and then it morphs into some piano backing which adds some classical flair before some top notch picking and harmonica take it completely over the top. It’s about human nature assuming the worst and not letting it hurt your dreams anymore, and to instead let them carry you along to the next set of circumstances. The track list moves on with “Good Friends Like You,” and “Know It All” which both have their great moments, especially the former’s lyrics and the latter’s music arrangement.
The next track is a cover of a classic rock song “Reflections Of My Life” by Marmalade, and it’s a tune most can recognize if old enough, but that is only because it’s not in heavy rotation like other tracks from that time-period. This is a song that deserves more exposure and Hutch does it all the justice in the world. At first, I thought it was just another good original until it got to the chorus and all of-a sudden was reminded of this classic. She makes it her own by putting her signature on it without completely rearranging it and pulls off an epic effort to bring it back new and improved style.
“In My Life” starkly changes the mood with a rootsy track that winds up a fun-loving effort after such a serious point on the album. Hutch delivers a soothing vocal over an acoustic backing track that perfectly compliment each other for an overall remarkable slice of beauty that balances out very well in the mix. It’s followed by even more melodrama on “To Say Goodbye” which is the most lyrically spiritual point on the album. It’s easy to imagine a nice black and white promo video for this track, it’s a very picturesque song with a lot of heart and soul conveyed by Hutch.
The magic continues with “Sweet Dave” being a narrative spot which again changes the mood in another great way. Hutch has been compared to the likes of Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge to name a couple of names, but bluesy tracks like this prove she’s a voice to reckon with in her own right. It’s also worth noting tracks like “The Best Of Me” to really get down to the heart what Cathy Hutch’s music is best for, as she croons away with a sultry delivery, and the title track smokes as well, along with the exquisite closer “Lullaby” to top one of the best CD’s 2018 has to offer thus far.
Cathy Hutch – Free Wheelin’
Cathy Hutch is one killer blues/rock artist with the skills and experience to own it. Her first CD, Not Goin’ Back, was recorded in Nashville and backed by stellar musicians such as Mike Brignardello, Pat Buchanan and Lonnie Wilson.
Hutch’s latest CD, Free Wheelin,’” was engineered and produced by Paul Milner (Eddy Grant, Keith Richards, Matt Andersen, Glass Tiger) with Geoff Arsenaul and Chris Corrigan. The release pays tribute to blues and classic rock with an original style and grace of her own.
“Carry You Along” opens the disc with a slightly stripped back number to start with, and it’s a sweet little tune that leaves you wanting more. The next track “Good Friends Like You” delivers the softer side of Hutch with an easy listening track to add the perfect contrast to the opener. The songwriting is second to none and everything about it is spot on, giving way to a mixture of everything found on the former tracks with “Know It All” putting it all into lyrical perspective thus far on the disc. It renders the set three for three and that’s a testament for many fans and critics alike who usually find everything checking out from there.
Hutch pulls out a surprising choice for a cover and wins at every effort to do so with “Reflections Of My Life” originally recorded by Marmalade, a 60s/70s band with only this one hit to their credit. But a fairly-big hit it was in the sense of how it still resonates to this day, and Hutch completely nails everything about it with proper amounts of soul and conviction to match the original, including the lovely blues guitar soloing on the bonafide classic. You still don’t hear this track every day, but this new version could bring back some of the attention the song deserves, with Hutch doing it the justice it deserves.
Blues and rock originality meet-together with flying colors on this album with the promising sounds of “Know It All,” which is a stand-up track about defending yourself. It’s a very refreshing blues/rock sound that Hutch brings to the table and her songs cover a variety of great topics. This excellent cut is as good as anything on the disc, so it is well worth noting for that and more. No wasting time is one of the points made in the lyrics of this song, and no time is wasted in the process of listening to it. Hutch hits a few high notes and you know you’re hearing a great singer, and it comes with some tasty blues guitar licks.
“In My Life” is another hot pick, as it breathes some more fresh air into the set with another stripped back acoustic track. The lyrics do most of the business on this beautiful track with some fantastic melodies. “To Say Goodbye” is full of the same as the former and the two play-very well in unison together. “Sweet Dave” is one of the more fun-loving tracks on the disc, with Hutch at her characteristic best with some great piano added. And not to be missed are “Gratitude Of Attitude” and the title track “Free Wheelin’” with their due amounts of energy and excitement to spice up the whole smoking hot release.
It’s not the easiest task in the world to balance soft lyrics with loud, unruly guitar driven music, regardless of the general manner in which an artist chooses to deliver their craft. Rock music, country, punk rock, heavy metal, whatever you want to call yourself; the tantalizing equilibrium of music that can move us emotionally as much as it can physically is one that every artist seeks out from the very beginning of their careers. And although she’s no stranger to the road nor the studio, Cathy Hutch has all of the energy of a rookie black and white songwriter embarking on their first full color venture mixed with the poise and indulgent confidence of seasoned veteran on her new album Free Wheelin’. I’m not sure precisely how she’s navigated the cutthroat industry that is Canadian country music as well as she has in the last ten years, but her follow up to 2008’s Not Goin’ Back proves to be well worth the decade long wait in its inimitably kind and heartfelt artistic patchwork.
Sewn together like a carefully arranged, colorful quilt that exhibits the opulent pasturelands and soothing harmonies that the natural cordiality that embody the spirit of Canadian country music, Free Wheelin’ lives up to its ambitious title with a pageantry and gusto not often found in an album as unpretentious and studious as this. Backed by a radiant band of talented musicians and produced by some of the best guys in the game (under the direction of mastermind Paul Milner of Eddy Grant and Keith Richards fame), Cathy Hutch draws us into her profound web of subterranean folk rock that relentlessly beats like a tribal drum, even when she croons her way through a slow paced ballad. Free Wheelin’ is a yin yang styled recording; “Carry You Along” may well be a gush of 90’s heartland rock grandeur but it’s adequately stabilized by the ruminating, soul searching of “Know It All.” The woeful bereavement in “To Say Goodbye” is challenged by the loveable “Sweet Dave” as well as the Pete Droge-inspired “In My Life.” Everything track has an equally gripping, contrasting partner that adds to the overall progressiveness of the record. This theatrical distribution of solid musical consistency and lyrical might make for a considerably magnetic listening experience, and certainly one that I was not fully expecting when I sat down to preview this record prior to reviewing it.
Without question, Cathy Hutch shuts down any debate over the relevance of Canadian country music in comparison to its American sibling in her latest LP with a zealous bravado that music aficionados on both sides of the border are bound to find as powerful as I have. Hopefully it won’t take another ten years to see more original content from this deeply gifted singer/songwriter, as I don’t know if either the rock or country scenes could really handle another drought of originality in the mainstream marketplace. And even if it does, Hutch can count on critics and fans to stay committed to watching her astonishingly innovative sound evolve even further.
Thomas Patton, III
Cathy Hutch Free Wheelin’
The very first song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 was Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” in August of 1958. Since then, over a thousand different songs have held the same chart position as Nelson’s Sharon Sheeley-penned classic from his self-titled sophomore album, and each one of them has made a unique impact on the progression and evolution of pop culture as we know it. A lot has changed since 1958 musically, socially and technologically, in addition to the collective taste of the consumer. Just this past week Childish Gambino’s “This is America” has been dominating the number one slot, and back in 1998 when I was just a kid living in the Midwest, Goo Goo Dolls’ emotionally charged ballad “Iris” went on an 18 week hot streak in the same slot that literally no one thought was going to end. Nelson, the Goo Goos, Childish Gambino; it’s completely and unequivocally impossible to foresee where the needle will drop next. One thing is certain though, when you hear the magic in an aspiring artist, someone whose really beginning to come into their own, you instantly can recognize it. I’m not just talking about writers and music journalists, either. Anyone who truly loves good, deep thinking music knows “the note” when they hear it. And when it’s present, you’d better look out for the momentum that comes thundering along with it. Coming like a stampede out of the breathtaking wilderness of New Brunswick, singer/songwriter Cathy Hutch is back with her latest contribution to the great Canadian songbook in Free Wheelin’, her brand new, magnificently blues-tinged LP.
Canada has always had a remarkably undervalued music culture when juxtaposed with America’s overwhelming supremacy when it comes to influencing the direction of western pop culture. Cathy Hutch is well aware of just how competitive of an environment it can be; her career launched with the thrilling debut full length album Not Goin’ Back and Hutch has put a lot of miles under her belt and received her hard-earned stripes as a road performer since her first trip into the studio alongside Mike Brignardello, Pat Buchanan and Lonnie Wilson in Nashville. Along her travels she’s picked up a lot more fortitude and foresight as a composer, demonstrated particularly well in the songs “Attitude of Gratitude” and “To Say Goodbye.” “Attitude of Gratitude” comes undone from the mounting pressure of a searing fuzz-laden riff that is led by defiant, barking vocals that demand common decency in a civilization run rife with ill-mannered people. “To Say Goodbye,” on the contrary, is an incredibly moving lament of a love gone astray, and moreover, the dark cloud of impending doom that looms over any dissolving romance that once burned bright.
The most incredible aspect of Free Wheelin’ is its ability to present Cathy Hutch in the full scope that we’ve been craving as listeners for too long now. This is the platform, the stage if you will, that she has worked hard to stand upon and has rightfully earned. I’m so interested to see what she does with this chance, and I advise pop fans to do so as well.
Cathy Hutch releases new music
The Indie Source
What makes a true artist? This question the singular contemplation that keeps music journalists in business. Ultimately measuring the critical quality of any piece of art is left up to the ndividual, because “good art” is always a matter of personal taste. However, when it comes to determining whether or not that very same art came from a “genuine” artist, things tend to get a little more complicated. Again, all of this really is a matter of personal taste, but the stewards of pop culture have created a full-fledged business out of the debate nevertheless. If I were hard pressed to describe my own view of what makes a true, organically built artist different from a derivative one, I suppose I would tell you that it comes down to two things; the structure of their songwriting and the most consistent theme we can observe in their artistic identity. And when it comes to Canada’s (mostly) hidden gem of a singer/songwriter Cathy Hutch, she satisfies all of my major requirements on the relevance scale.
Structurally, her new album Free Wheelin’ takes subtle influence from 80’s pop rock and traditional country/western subjective material, but Hutch distinctly goes out of her way to make sure no two songs have the same look, feel or mood attached to them. Her arrangements blend the traditional guitar, bass and drum kit set up of post-60’s rock bands and peppers in New Orleans jazz elements and even a taste of British folk music in spots. She’s joyously unpredictable, reliably enterprising in her mixture of styles and heartfelt in all of her vocal parts on the record. From start to finish, I had a really hard time finding any specific flaws with this album.
The closing track “Lullaby” gently begs us to give peace a chance to replace all of the hatred and sadness that we as a society carry around like heavy baggage. I’ve always felt like the very last song on any album represents the inevitable climax of all the energy the artist has expended in getting us through the lyrical and musical quest of the previous tracks. It’s an opportunity for the artist to give us one last look into their vulnerability, the core of their creative drive. In contrast to the contemplative (“Reflections of Life”), the recalcitrant (“Know it All”) and all out inspiring (“Good Friends like You”) songs that precede it, “Lullaby” is perfectly titled, as it feels like Cathy Hutch is putting us and all of the world’s volatility to bed.
As pop music continues to evolve, it’s exciting to see artists as energized and inventive as Cathy Hutch making an impact on music not just within their own local scenes but internationally as well. Free Wheelin’ has found its way south of the border, and American audiences are starting to fall head over heels for this Canadian entertainer in a very special, buzz-worthy way. Hopefully she’ll treat stateside fans to some live performances in the near future, as I’m quite sure she would have no trouble filling up a concert hall with her enigmatic, warm style of pop/rock.
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Cathy Hutch – ‘Free Wheelin’
by Skope • May 22, 2018
For a lot of mainstream critics, the problem with folk music today is that most of the quirky, simple attributes that made up the foundation of the genre seem to have given way to digitalized vanity, feigned passion for social issues and conceited attitudes within the scenes that once championed a now-fading sense of artistic ethics.
But all of that withstanding, not all hope is lost. We can all be grateful that independent music is a fire that is burning stronger than ever in 2018, thanks largely to the advent of social media and the internet age, and we’re able to find the treasure among the infinite mountains of trash. My most recent find is a new LP out of the great white north, Free Wheelin’, by bluesy country rocker Cathy Hutch, a woman who not only holds the spirit of traditional folk music true to her heart, but translates that spirit into thrilling melodies for all of us to enjoy in this 11 song masterpiece. I’ve listened to a lot of albums this year from various artists across numerous genres, and I can say without a doubt that Free Wheelin’ sticks out as one of the more memorable listening experiences I’ve had thus far.
It isn’t just the captivating yet plainly practical poetry that Cathy Hutch merges with her solid blues beats and countrified twang that turns me on when I listen to Free Wheelin’; there’s so much more to this record than meets the eye. I’m not the only person who is noticing, either. Recently Hutch had the chance to open for none other than Carroll Baker, the undisputed queen of Canadian country music and favorite daughter of Nova Scotia, and Baker was so taken with Hutch’s talent and soulful singing that she invited her on stage to close out the evening. There’s something so spellbinding about Cathy Hutch that makes this new record, and all of her work to date, really infectious and memorable.
“Carry You Along,” the first song on the record, is without a doubt a theme song for Cathy Hutch’s musical persona. Fun, energetic, stylishly aware of how to make blues rock really sizzle, a passionate and motivating stanza that preps us for a chorus that ignites the room on fire and invites us to dance amongst the flames. This couldn’t be country music, right? After all, country music isn’t supposed to rock this hard is it? Hutch’s songwriting doesn’t particularly care what you think the limits are or should be. She’s breaking all the rules and it sounds utterly smashing. Even when she takes it slow and gets a little smoky on tracks like the earnest “Sweet Dave,” the vibe is still electric, and the movement is unstoppable. You know you’ve struck gold in the studio when every track feels like a single, and that is very much the case with Free Wheelin’. This is the kind of album that folk music needs right now, and more importantly, the kind of record that country fans truly deserve.