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Creative collaboration stimulates first work by Honest Mechanics

Everyone considers themselves a stranger. This paradoxical nugget of wisdom lies at the heart of the Honest Mechanic’s “Outsider,” a song made up of contrary ideas: optimistic guitar chords and an original guitar solo, a raw American singer performing delicate and breathtaking, beautiful pop combined with lyrics in absolute quarantine. .

The running contradictions in “Outsider” amplify Mechanik’s honest self-album album, out 16. July LP features two artists who seem to have little in common – Medford’s own singer-songwriter Susan Cattaneo and Paul Hansen in Somerville’s Grownup Noise – which shares a thousand aesthetic houses from both of previous catalogs.

Cattane said: “We both want to pursue any ideas we have and are fine with it being about capturing an atmosphere and feelings,” Cattaneo said.

The atmosphere of Honest Mechanics on the album is tied from the first whisper duet to the last keyboard melody. The tender and sad songs with keyboards reminiscent of electropop, simple arrangements adorned with short tangents of jazz guitar, and the amazing magical combination of Cattaneo and Hansen’s voice.

Cattaneo’s solo song has roots that reach deep underground, from Nempville’s Memphis to Appalachia (choose any song from its catalog and chances are it would make an ideal cover for Bonnie Raitt or Carrie Underwood or Steve Earle). Hansen’s work in The Noise Grownup often featured an orchestra sweep full of swollen strings, rippling piano lines, a harmony of arranged percussion and meticulous detail. But after meeting on a mutual account a few years ago, they attracted each other’s talents and the two reluctantly started writing together.

Cattaneo said: “It evolved organically, of course, and we didn’t know we were going to do a band, we had no plans to become a band, and suddenly we had all these songs,” Cattaneo said .

“I’m not really co-writing, I’m kind of a one-baked-in-the-kitchen writer, or at least I thought I was,” Hansen added. “But when I wrote Susan, I said, ‘Oh, this isn’t so scary.'”

The two didn’t think too much about the tunes. They just write. They did not discuss the choice of production. Hansen was often reliable and didn’t need much complimentary from Cattaneo when he suggested we give numbers on Marco Giovino to add percussion. But learning to sing together required some math.

“In my mind, Susan had to sing a bit like me for this at work, which means a bit gentle and fragile and weak,” Hansen said as Cattaneo laughed at the thought. “If you don’t know me, I’m going to walk in like Paul Bunyan and sing lullabies.”

“I think that’s true, but I’ll frame it in a different way,” Cattaneo added. “I feel very uncomfortable when I sing with Paul. I don’t do vocal gymnastics, which I can do as a singer. Instead, I think, ‘What is our sound? What’s our mix? For me, our mix is this effortless way of singing is just great fun.

Unexpectedly, the two write, arrange and sing like old friends and old professionals who did not meet in the middle of their old style, but in a new place. They both agreed that they could not have written any of the songs alone.

“We allow ourselves to wander through our composition process, and normally I like,‘ Well, here goes the hook. ’” Cattaneo said.

“And I may lose so far in my composition,” Hansen added. “Susan keeps me tied to the ground.”

It will be shown in person in the fall. More music will come later (the pair have already written some new songs). But neither of us knows exactly where this is going to go. For now they are happy to enjoy the biggest surprise that Honest Mechanics has brought: that making music can be so much fun and easy.

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