Pike & Sutton Album Review
Heart Is a Compass
By Doug Freeman, Fri., May 1, 2020
Great chemistry doesn't break, and in the case of Austinites Patrice Pike and Wayne Sutton, those bonds over three decades catalyze into the exceptional alloy of their first LP as a duo. The elements that raised their late-century blues jams to major label success with Sister 7 still swagger in Pike's undeniably loaded vocals and Sutton's subtly ripped guitar, yet Heart Is a Compass bestows a maturity and trust to let their compositions find their grooves and follow. Those directions vary sharply across 11 tracks, from the opening blues ballad statement that swirls behind "Let the Music Get You High" to the funky town litany of "Communal." Sutton gets his licks in, most notably on nearly seven-minute centerpiece "Hands Up," even as Jim Watts keeps production tight and focused. Some moments feel dated in their Nineties AOR sound, but those instances strike more as touchstones than pulling anchors as the pair stretches out into the slinky title track and wicked, warped pop percussion of "Moonbeam." Heart Is a Compass bolsters the catharsis of an expert and natural pairing returning to the studio, knowing how to compliment and pull the best from each other.