Equal parts rootsy folk-rock and country with integrity, singer-songwriter Toni Catlin weaves tales of heartache, acceptance, and redemption and delivers them in a soulful, mellifluous voice that suggests she's lived more than a few of her lyrics. Her debut album Heartache on the Run features many of Nashville's top session musicians, but Preston Sullivan's production avoids the studio-sterile pitfalls and conjures more of a band vibe."
Toni Catlin, a newer voice in Music City but one steeped in deep blue country and literate folk. A Vermont native with Colorado in her past, Catlin brings a touch of that mountain mellow vibe to her brand of alt. Country.
~ Craig Havighurst
Vermont, meet Toni Catlin, Toni Catlin meet Vermont. Actually, you've met before, though you shouldn't be faulted if you forgot. The silken-voiced songstress grew up here but has spent the last several years plying her trade in Nashville. Folks with an ear for slickly produced, twangy folk rock - 104.7PM The Point, we're lookin' in your direction - would do well to become reacquainted. And although it was released in 2006, Catlin's Uncovered is a good place to start. From the outset, two things are immediately clear. One, she's an uncommonly gifted vocalist. And two this disc came straight outta Nashville. Speaking to the former point, Catlin possesses a clean, full-bodied timbre and has remarkable control of her abilities. She is always in command, never overestimating her range or technical prowess, which are both considerable. A talent such as hers could be excused for indulging in stylized histrionics on occasion. But she rarely does, instead relying on her natural tone and an innate knack for phrasing.
Given that artists such as Paula Cole have sold a gajilion records, there's obviously a healthy market for airbrushed folk-pop confections. But on her best day, Cole can't match Catlin's nuanced wordsmithing. ~ Dan Bolles
"4 out of 5 star rating
"Sensitive acoustic cover versions that will grow on you with repeated listens"
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Toni Catlin takes a left turn on this latest album, which is, as the title suggests, a selection of cover songs rather than the self-penned songs she's known for. In fact, COVERED wasn't even intended for commercial release, but was to be a personal little record made for her father. Simple acoustic arrangements are the order of the day, but that doesn't translate into cheap and nasty. Far from it! With producer Thom Jutz playing guitars, bass, mandolin, keyboards and flute, alongside Pat Mclnerney (drums, percussion), Mark and Dave Roe (bass), brother Bruce Catlin (mandolin) and exquisite background vocals by Sally Barris this is an exceptionally polished, well-produced musical experience. Toni's vocal performances, particularly on Willie Nelson's Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground, the traditional Times Are Getting Hard and Donal MacDonagh's You'll Never Be The Sun rank with the best of her career. Shawn Colvin's Shotgun Down The Avalanche is haunting with the stunning acoustic guitar and her strong emotive vocals. For me. Easy from Now On paled a little in comparison to the recent Miranda Lambert version, but sitting here listening again, I have to say, Toni's rendition is growing on me, as is her version of my all-time favourite Rodney Crowell song, 'Til I Gain Control Again. Again it is sensitively sung, but initially didn't make the same kind of emotional impact as Rodney's original. All in all a quite captivating album.
Maverick Magazine review ~ Alan Cackett (London, England)
Nashville-based singer-songwriter with an honest, thought-provoking style. Toni Catlin made her recording debut five years ago with the release of HEARTACHE ON THE RUN. Now she follows it up with an equally impressive album which Mary Gauthier describes as 'fantastic', adding, 'Her singing is stunning, simply beautiful. Her songs are first rate, and her style crosses many genres;' high praise indeed from a singer-songwriter who is held in high esteem by her peers. It is difficult to categorise Catlin's music but then, why should everything be neatly pigeonholed? Influenced by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin and others of similar ilk one could say that stylistically she broadly fits in with these without ever being branded a clone. Enlisting the help of a number of co-writers she worked with on her first album, Catlin's name is appended to all fourteen songs, two of which, Disappear and When The Morning Comes she has written on her own. Without exception, the songs are, as Mary Gauthier proclaims, first rate, sensitive, literate, poetic with the lyrics strongly suggesting that Ms Catlin is not only wearing her heart on her sleeve but convincingly revealing her own life experiences which elevate them above much of the mish-mash pap churned out by retained nine-to-five writers and grabbed, off the peg, by some a&r guy for the newest pretty face on the scene who doesn't even get to see the song until she is actually in the studio. A number of the songs relate to a certain insecurity in the game of love. Not Goin' Down offering unequivocal advice to a wavering lover that, although the protagonist is prepared to fight to keep the flame aglow, love is a two way thing and if he fails to respond then the battle is lost. The driving Undertow shares a similar theme as indeed do Uncovered, Break Me Open and Shooting Arrows In The Dark, pleas to lovers to commit themselves to a deep and meaningful relationship. Strong Stuff, on the other hand, tells us of the singer's addiction to the touch of her lover and we find her making all the running on A Little Leads To More and Deeper while Disappear, one of the highlights of the album, with its sad sense of resignation, is one of the most poignant songs I have heard in a long while. Another heartbreaker is When The Morning Comes and this, coupled with Sunday Morning leave the listener in little doubt as to what it feels like to be the loser in love. None of these are mere 'nine-to-five' jingles. There is potency about every one, which makes for compelling listening. Jointly produced by Doug Lancio, who has worked with Gretchen Peters and Patty Griffin, and Thom Jutz, well known for his work with Richard Dobson for a number of years, the production is well suited to the material. There is a good balance between insistent, driving numbers, mid-paced songs and slow, heartfelt ballads. At no time is the singer drowned out by her backing which, in the experienced hands of Lancio and Jutz, offer exactly the right vehicle for the lyrics. It has been a five-year wait since Ms Catlin's last album. This lady has something fresh and meaningful to offer so one can only hope that we will not have to wait as long for her next album.
~ Andy Cole (London, England)
"Toni Catlin, Merlefest songwriting winner and exceptional folk-rock, country talent's debut CD Heartache on the Run is deftly written and captivating."
The Rage ~ (Nashville, TN)
"Heartache on the Run is a solid debut from Toni Catlin, who, with producer Preton Sullivan, has put together a talented group of players including guest vocalists Jon Randall, Britt Savage, and Walt Wilkins. "Wrong Side Of Me" is a "he done me wrong" female throw-down tune that's country flavored and gently rocking. Catlin's voice is rich and distinctive, the song a definite must play". ~Jesse Scott
"Toni Catlin borrows a moan from Patty Loveless, a sigh from Alison Krauss and a slightly edgy outsider sound from Jamie O'Neal. It's not all somebody-done-somebody-wrong songs, but expect a double dose of longing from this promising new Nashville artist. Eddie's Attic."
**** (4 Stars)
"Nashville-based singer-songwriter Toni Catlin, a regular of Billy Block's infamous Western Beat live radio show, delivers a debut album that is not only refreshingly different to most Music Row productions, but also highly listenable. There are several notable A-team players in attendance: Dave Pomeroy, Russ Pahl and Mike Seevers, not to mention Jon Randall on background vocals. But the real star of this record is Catlin and her well-written tunes, that stand up well to the pair of outside songs, Patty Griffin's We Are Water and Julie Miller's Sometimes I Cry. Like Gretchen Peters, Shawn Colvin and Miller at their most inspired, Catlin is a deceptively edgy songwriter who frames her thought-provoking poetry in an irresistible musical tableau. The most immediately compelling tracks are the effervescent Breakin' New Ground, the instantly memorable Somewhere In Your Heart, the touching and enigmatic No Justice In Love and the catchy Bulletproof. This lady performs with a confidence that allows her to flawlessly merge a wide vocal range with a considerable dose of raw emotion and soul. One to definitely seek out and enjoy."
Alan Cackett ~ Country Music Int'l Magazine (London, England)
Turners Hill House Concert, West Sussex , England ~
A review by Andy Cole
This provided Vermont native now Nashville based singer-songwriter Toni Catlin with her only UK gig for this year. A unique intimate stop-off before jetting off to play shows at Akrotiri Villas, Crete in Greece. It is always special to catch an artist when they have a great new album out. Her latest album UNCOVERED produced by the Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist / producer Doug Lancio certainly has been well received. Gaining radio airplay on Bob Harris' Country and extensive support across the UK local BBC network.
She also showcased some brand new material from a cover song project, an idea of her father, which he encouraged her to embark on. Songs included bringing back halcyon days of being close to nature singing songs together around the campfire at the family resort Timberlock in the Adirondacks, New York State whilst enjoying the spectacular wilderness and lakeside settings. Playing solo in a totally unplugged guise she opened with the well-known folk song 'Wayfaring Stranger' a Burl Ives signature song about a vagabond on a journey home, readers may be more familiar with recordings by the likes of Emmylou Harris. After playing 'Strong Stuff ' about a boyfriends addiction to the demon drink and the singers own take on dealing with her inner demons with the obsession of a lovers touch. She shared with us that writing songs is like answering questions in ones own life. Toni, who writes for publishing company Matt Lindsey Music, said this song has been pitched to a multi award Winning Female artist - Watch this space! Greatly inspired by Patty Griffin after seeing her live 'We Are Water' was a song Patty allowed Toni to cut in 2001 .It is therefore apt that they now share the same producer in Doug Lancio, 6 of the 14 tracks on the 'Uncovered' album being credited to him. Later in the set she also performed 'Top Of The World' another Patty Griffin masterpiece.'Disappear' a personal favourite from the 'Uncovered' CD completely captures Toni's stunning vocal. With her forlorn cry which has a delicacy and fragility it draws in the listener especially when delivering the glorious chorus: 'Just like smoke into the atmosphere / I'll slip away and disappear / Like leaves when they hit the ground / You won't have to hear the sound / Of my heart breaking or dry my tears I'll just disappear. It was joyous on the evening to hear her take of 'Willin' (Lowell George) which Jon Randall cut, Stevie Nicks' 'Landslide' and particularly Shawn Colvin's 'Shotgun Down The Avalanche' for whom she once opened and whose musical style has rubbed off on songs like 'Not Goin' Down'.