Catherine Britt

From Newcastle to Nashville, Catherine made the move to the home of country music at just 17 years old. It proved to be a brave decision that gave her immeasurable experience as a musician, insight into the workings of the industry and a contract with the iconic RCA Records.

When you look at modern country music you can identify a diverse range of styles that have evolved from the traditional roots form. From pop country to bush ballads, acoustic folk-leaning songs to rousing country rock and the polymorphic blend of Americana. One Australian artist that can lay claim to all of these strains is Britt, a songwriter who has already packed a respected and highly acclaimed career into her first two decades as a recording artist. Now, a new chapter begins with the release of her seventh studio album, Catherine Britt & The Cold Cold Hearts.

“It’s very country and organic, probably one of the most country albums I’ve ever done.”

On returning home to Australia in 2009, Catherine set about recording her debut full length album Dusty Smiles and Heartbreak Cures, the first of five consecutive albums nominated for Album Of The Year at the CMAA Golden Guitar Awards. The accolades didn’t stop there. Along the way she has received five Golden Guitar Awards, the CMA Global Artist Of The Year award in 2010 and six ARIA Award nominations for Best Country Album.

The critical acclaim for her albums and reputation as a performer has seen Catherine tour and perform with some of the biggest names in music, including Sir Elton John, Don McLean, Kasey Chambers, Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Kenny Chesney, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Chris Isaak and Keith Urban.

Not satisfied with carving an enviable career as a songwriter, performer and recording artist, Catherine has also been involved in the wider country music community as a radio broadcaster on ABC’s Saturday Night Country, TV host on CMC’s Alt Country program and most recently as editor and owner of Rhythms, Australia’s premiere roots music magazine.

Life has a way of throwing curveballs, both good and bad, and the last three years have seen Catherine fight and win a battle with breast cancer, marry her husband James and five months ago, give birth to their first child, son Hank.

Out of those highs and lows comes Catherine Britt & The Cold Cold Hearts, an album that rattles and rolls with life, energy and honest, autobiographical songwriting.

“Since Boneshaker, I’ve been through so many things that have shaped this record that I could never have written before. Life experience, recording it while I was pregnant and having gone through all the illness stuff as well. I personally feel like these songs are from a totally different place than anything earlier and even more honest and real than I’ve been before. It feels like you’re reading my diary when you’re listening to it.”

The album was recorded in Catherine’s own studio, built in her backyard and dubbed the Beverley Hillbilly Studios. With engineer Jeff McCormack behind the desk, Catherine and The Cold Cold Hearts (Michael Muchow & Andy Toombs) self-produced the album with Bill Chambers guesting on all the tracks. “I came up with this idea three years ago on our honeymoon while we were travelling in our camper in WA.

“I didn’t know what to do next after Boneshaker but I knew I didn’t want to do the overseas thing again, and that I wanted to do something more organic and homely. I conceived the idea of building the studio and doing it ourselves. I’ve always wanted to do one of those ‘artist and a band’ projects like Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and Emmylou Harris & The Hot Band. It’s still the artist but they have this band of mates behind them.

When I was writing the album I was reaching back to when I was a kid and rediscovering that music I grew up on. I thought about who would ‘get’ that and pull it off and these guys were perfect. When you’re making a record and going out on the road it’s really important that there’s a good vibe and you’re all on the same page.”

…read the rest in Issue 89.