All Is Quiet
Continental Song City
A Warm and Gentle Boston Voice with a Loud Message
Boston’s Susan Cattaneo ( Pronounced kah-TAH-nay-oh – thanks press release!) is new to this reviewer so I approached this album with no preconceptions or expectations whatsoever.
Much lauded in her home state and city, it’s not difficult to hear why that’s the case.
These nine new songs, birthed at the start of the pandemic, reveal a thoughtful and literate voice.
The title track kicks things off – “inhibition’s become my new religion” there’s a musing on the enforced isolation of pandemic times, which in turn is a metaphor for any solitary life and its purpose and function. Musically, it’s all very tasteful arranged around beautifully produced acoustic and electric guitar.
“Time + Love + Gravity” which follows ruminates about the “emptiness between you and me” and the effect of time and experience on relationships.
Staccato guitar rhythm throughout is like the ticking of a clock which incessantly moves things onwards.
“Borrowed Blue” drops the tempo down into finger-picking territory; and is a consideration of the effect of the maternal gene line of mothers and daughters, especially in terms of the continuation of melancholy down the family line.
Alliteratively, “Blackbirds” follows and lyrically is less direct, combining dream, metaphor and fable into a mystical exploration of relationships.
“Broken Things” (lots of tracks start with “B”!) takes pastoral imagery to explore “the beauty in broken things” – whether that is the natural world, or the beauty in a relationship that has had its rough moments – it’s a lyrical/musical version of that scene in the film “American Beauty” where the camera follows a carrier bag tossed by the wind.
“Diamond Days” also explores the inherent duality of roughness and value/beauty and how the growth of worth and beauty is a slow process through the central metaphor of the formation of a diamond. Jangling, warm production again fleshes out the gentle vocal.
There’s a bit more of a minor musical shift on “No Hearts Here” which explores emotional emptiness and the illusion of feeling, whereas “Hold Onto Hope” takes a more optimistic and gentle path, despite life’s peaks and troughs – it’s one of the quieter tracks to begin with, but swells into more celebratory areas in the life-reaffirming mantra of the chorus – it’s positive, radio-friendly and balances uncertainty and strength, especially in the vocal delivery.
“Follow”, which draws things to a conclusion starts with tick-tock picking high up the frets and, interspersed with sharp strums and warm picking and provides a note of hope and resolution.
Susan Cattaneo’s gentle and warm songs reach out on this album to the experiences of many, way beyond her geographical hub – she deserves to be heard more widely and hopefully “All Is quiet” will do the trick.
Review by Nick Barber
Released 8th April 2022
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