My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Catherine Britt – ‘Catherine Britt & The Cold Cold Hearts’

Australian country singer Catherine Britt released one of my favorite albums of the 21st century, 2006’s Too Far Gone. Unfortunately, although it was intended as her breakthrough into the US mainstream, it failed to hit a chord with radio, and she returned to her homeland, where over time her music diverged from her early traditionalism to a more Americana influenced sound. Last year she reunited with her first producer, Australian country legend Bill Chambers, and returned to her musical roots with a set of mainly self-penned material combining traditional country sounds and lyrics deeply rooted in Australian soil and inspired by a recent battle with breast cancer.

The opening ‘Red Dirt’ draws on her Australian heritage for a sunny song about travelling in the Outback. An upbeat tune and optimistic lyrics are backed by charming harmonies. ‘Troubled Kind’ is similarly charming and inspired by Catherine’s travels around Australia with her husband in a camper van. In ‘Bush TV’ she lyrically ponders the beauties of her own back yard.

‘Where You Gonna Go’ draws on blues and gospel as Britt offers a devastating critique of someone who has betrayed their friends and values in the interest of fame:

All you care about is fame
Where you gonna go when you got no name?

What’s there for you on the other side?
What’s there for you when you’ve lost your pride?
Someday you’ll see when it’s too late
When all your real friends have gone away…

The mountain you climb is only so high
The poison you drink will one day run dry

‘Too Hot To Just Quit’ is a lovely song about someone pondering their own “seeking out all of the hard choices” in life. Also filled with thoughtful regret is the gentle waltz ‘Young In All The Wrong Ways’. This co-write with Bill Chambers is another highlight with a gorgeous mandolin-laced melody and insightful lyrics:

When you only
Drink to get drunk and you’re lonely
So you don’t wanna stop and you know
Deep down it’s true what they say
And I’m told I’ve still got so much life to live
It’s only beginning but I feel 100 years old today

Cause I was young in the wrong ways
And that was just yesterday
No, I don’t wanna grow up
But I don’t wanna slow down
Well I’m not quite old enough
To feel like I’ve played enough
I’m not ready to grow up
But I don’t want to stay
Young in all the wrong ways

Written with Adam Ackerly and Brooke McClymont, the airy ‘I’m Not Ready’ defies mortality and expresses Catherine’s remaining hopes for the future.

‘Met My Match’ is a deeply romantic song about unexpectedly finding one’s soulmate.

The album’s one cover is Fred Eaglesmith’s country-blues ‘I Like Trains’.

I mentioned the folky ‘The River & The Gum’ in my list of favorite album tracks of 2018. Proceedings come to a close with ‘Coalmine’, a story song written with Bill Chambers.

This is a great return to form for Catherine Britt, and I warmly recommend it.

Grade: A+

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