Album Review by Rob Watts
Susan Hyatt has nothing to prove to the music world. A rule breaker in every sense, she hit the ground running at an early age and has never looked back. Musically speaking, she started her career as a guitarist in the Los Angeles-based garage band, The Pandoras, before eventually forming the London-based grunge band, Pillbox (WEA Records), where they spent a decade touring and recording. They recorded the Top 20 UK Indie Hit, “Invasion.” Returning to Los Angeles, Hyatt formed the Pop/Rock band, Stimulator (The Lab/Universal Music), and released three albums, toured with high-profile acts such as The Go-Gos and Duran Duran and had their cover of Olivia Newton-John’s “Magic” placed in the long-standing “Magic of Macy’s” television ads. She then went on to form the band, Sirens of Soho, and recorded the theme song “Calling All My Girls” for Bethenny Frankel’s syndicated talk show, Bethenny.
Hyatt’s latest release, Pin-ups & Trumpets (The Orchard Records), is probably her most daring to date—an all covers album of well-known tracks recorded primarily with vocals and trumpets. Inspired by David Bowie’s 1973 release, “Pin Ups”, this collection offers a glimpse of Hyatt’s influences, and acts as a musical roadmap of her life from her early days as a music fan.
Recorded in Nashville and co-produced by multi-instrumentalist Zack Leffew, PinUps & Trumpets shape-shifts several popular songs into enchanting, sultry ear candy, while re-contextualizing each song into a dense and provocative musical landscape. It’s evident that Hyatt truly grasps the nuances of the originals, as she manages to re-dress them without abandoning the raw emotion of the songs, such as Welcome to My Nightmare and Personal Jesus, the more free spirited Looks That Kill, and the weightier subject matter of The Dope Show. Aided and abetted by trumpet player and producer, Zack Leffew, the texture put forth between the two creates an amazing listening experience. Unlike the countless amount of cover albums—shamelessly xeroxing the originals, with a slight change of key here and there, Pin-ups & Trumpets is a worthy re-interpretation of the classic originals, rather than a poor substitution.