Free Wheelin is the 11-track sophomore album from Cathy Hutch. It’s a collection of country-flavored songs with sprinkles of bluesy hues and rich rocking guitar riffs. Hutch, who hails from Canada, holds her own. Her team compares her voice to the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Pat Benatar and Tanya Tucker. I don’t think they’re far off – but don’t let those comparisons sway your listening experience. Hutch has her own way of doing things and it definitely stands out.
The first few tracks on Free Wheelin are crafty and nice. “Carry You Along” is a bit sugary with lyrics like “watch your dreams take flight and soar…” I just didn’t feel too connected with this or “Good Friends Like You.” They don’t have the blues-rock vibe like “In My Life” and “Sweet Dave.” I felt like Hutch was in her element in the songs where she engaged with the edgier guitar riffs.
Hutch embodies coziness to her voice in “Know It All,” “Reflections,” “In My Life” and more. Still, her command of bluesy-roots-rock and roll is always present. She seems to elevate her artistry with each track.
In “To Say Goodbye” Hutch has this gentle, confident approach. It reminded me a bit of Karen Carpenter. This wasn’t one of my favorite tracks, yet the words spoke to me: some days we laugh, some days we cry, it’s not ours to question why. Her lyrics might be trite to some, but Christian music fans will find no fault in this slow-dance of a song. The piano and soft guitar are mesmerizing meshed against Hutch’s vulnerable vocals.
“Sweet Dave” is a standout song. It’s got a killer guitar riff, and Hutch settles right in beside her backing band. This song is made for a night out and to be played live and loud at an outdoor amphitheater.
So there you have it, on one hand Cathy Hutch can really rock it out in Free Wheelin, and in other ways she carries the torch for softer, rootsy songs. I think this speaks volumes for her range and her artistry. If listeners are expecting Anne Murray or Karen Carpenter they might find some tunes here that connect to their soul. On the other hand, if listeners are ready to rock and want to pass through the hills on their Harley Davidson, then they will find some tracks on Free Wheelin that do just that.
Overall, Cathy Hutch receives high marks. The breadth of her work is easy to like. She charms when she needs to, and lets it go when it’s time for rock and roll!
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