Cathy Hutch Free Wheelin’
If you’re looking to catch some of the hottest country music in Canada this upcoming summer, I encourage you to find your way to one of Cathy Hutch’s live performances in support of her new album Free Wheelin’, released earlier this year. An epic homage to her blues-rock roots, Free Wheelin’ is everything that Hutch’s longtime fans have been waiting for since her first record Not Goin’ Back inspired her initial cult following. Her underground status is certainly looking to short lived, as Hutch is not only generating buzz throughout all of the North American independent music community, but inviting plenty of airplay on specialty radio with her catchy, carefree lyrics and masterful command of the guitar.
Free Wheelin’ starts us off with the anthemic “Carry You Along,” which essentially sets the tone for the entire record with its boisterous acoustic guitars and Memphis style blues swagger. “Good Friends Like You” follows it up with wonderfully authentic balladry that reminds us of the important part that our dearest friends play in both our everyday lives as well as our toughest of moments. “Know it All” is the first red-blooded rocker of the album, equipped with a machete sharp vocal from Hutch and a lead guitar that epically dances back and forth between punk rock abrasiveness and blues rock boastfulness. Just as the virtuosity of the six string is getting to be more than our ears can process all at once, suddenly we come to a screeching halt and are met with a George Harrison-style guitar lick that serves as the introduction to “Reflections of My Life,” the most inward looking song on the record. The sorrow that our singer is experiencing weighs heavy on our hearts, but it isn’t to last. Instead there’s an emerging strength, a motivation to climb higher that’s grabbing us as we make our way into “In My Life.” This fifth track plays like a dawn breaking away the darkness in the early morning on a deserted open plain. Steady palm muted riffing seems to be following us in the shadows. Hutch’s rich vocals a reminiscent of what I imagine a heavenly choir to sound like. “To Say Goodbye” and “Sweet Dave” should really share the same track, as the melancholic elegy that is “To Say Goodbye” needs the charming, bittersweet support of “Sweet Dave” and its Bayou-lent tempo.
The album begins to draw to a close by the time “Attitude of Gratitude” comes walloping through the speakers and wakes us back up and drags our feet back to the earth to embrace the heat coming off of the amplifiers. “The Best of Me” starts off in what feels like a dark, red light-covered bedroom before it becomes clear that this isn’t about dedicating your love to someone else, but rather finding a way to learn to love yourself. Hutch doesn’t want to draw from a well that you’re expecting her to, instead she wants to provoke your thoughts and make your ears anticipate what’s coming next. The title track serves as our final rush of liberation before
“Lullaby” peacefully closes the curtains and leaves us to reflect on everything we’ve just heard. If you’re looking for a record that is pleasing to far more than just one of your senses, Free Wheelin’ is one of 2018’s finest offerings to date.