REVIEW: Katy Vernon Releases the Beautifully Complex ‘Suit of Hearts’


Katy Vernon is a singer-songwriter who was born in London and currently lives in Minnesota. Of her new album Suit of Hearts, Vernon says, “most ambitious project I’ve done so far musically, it is also deeply rooted in mental health and sobriety.” Whatever the subject matter, it doesn’t take long to figure out that this album is hard to pin down.

If someone were to ask you “What do you get when you add horns, ukulele, and spacey slide guitar to 90s pop?” you might expect a punchline. You’d be waiting a while because the title track of this album sounds like what would happen if The Darling Buds added all of those elements to one of their tunes.

Kind of a saloon piano sound in “In Your Shoes” along with some alt-country guitar sound.

The more you listen to this album, the harder it is to describe the songs. “Home” has a little twang in the guitar courtesy of Clay Williams. The ukulele gives a bit of an exotica feel, while the trumpet part by Paul Odegaard gives the song just a tinge of Latin flavor.

“Catch Myself” is a song that sounds ready-made for country radio especially with the strings by the Laurel String Quartet. It is a sweet, pensive song in which Vernon reveals, “Kept thinking someone else would save me.” It’s easy to imagine this being one of those songs that you hear wherever you go.

“Undertow” is a song that begins with some spacey twang. There are a lot of layers to this song from Simon Husbands’s poppy piano part that brings to The Beatles (“In My Life”) to mind to the lonesome sound of the pedal steel. It is as complex and pretty as the other songs on the album.

If you think it’s never too early to get into the Christmas spirit, you’re in luck. This album closes with “Christmas Wish”. Like the other songs, this one has a lot of layers: pedal steel, trumpet, and what sounds like vibraphones. Vernon sings about how her Christmas wish will never come true, but somehow she doesn’t sound quite as sad as a lot of singers do in sad Christmas songs.

Suit of Hearts is a complex, multidimensional album that defies easy description. The sounds range from pop to country, and Vernon’s sweet voice ties it all together. Suit of Hearts will be available everywhere on May 17. Order your copy here.


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