Given his lengthy record of accomplishments — working with Tommy James; rocking with Alive N Kickin’ and Brooklyn Dreams; writing hit songs for Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, and Dolly Parton; and founding the Purple Heart Recording Company, to name just a few — you might expect Bruce Sudano to take his work very seriously. And that he does: when he’s composing with a guitar in his hand, he’s absolutely committed to the quest for the perfect melody, the sharpest hook, and the most expressive lyric. His stunning music video for the summer 2021 single “In Shadowland,” with its themes of longing, adventure, mortality, and release reinforced that impression.
But there’s a playful side to Sudano, too, and it’s never too far from the surface. His pop-rock Superman persona isn’t entirely fictional — he really is a man of stunning talents — but he’s more than willing to play it for laughs, too. His prior clip for the breezy, effortlessly catchy “It Don’t Take Much (Because I Do)” introduced the world to one of his very best friends: Honey the Cat, a black and white feline whose small size belies her fierce attitude. In the animated clip for “Fatal Love,” his latest single, Honey is back, leaving no doubt that she’s running the show.
Sudano’s songbook is so big and so varied that it’s hard to throw around superlatives, but we don’t think he’s ever written a song quite as gorgeous-sounding, or quite as direct, as “Fatal Love.” It’s a testament to the all-consuming power of romance and an exploration of the dangers of opening your heart, but Sudano sings and plays it so sweetly that it doesn’t even feel like a warning. His arrangement is understated but intricately wrought: the more you concentrate on the song, the more it unfolds, and the lovelier it becomes. It’s the kind of production where a listener could get lost in a guitar line or a subtle countermelody — a song, in short, written and performed by a master.
Director Elliot Mason has worked with Sudano before, and by now, fans of the artist know what to expect from his distinctive, irreverent animation style. Cut-outs, marionette-like human figures, bright primary colors, lots of motion and activity, everything endlessly watchable and replayable — this is the Bruce Sudano video style, something almost as identifiable as his musical signature. Mason and Sudano make references to The Godfather, James Bond, and The Traveling Wilburys and bring in cut-outs of the band to keep things lively. And of course, there’s that crazy cat Honey, looking as adorable as possible while driving a tank, peppering lovers with hearts shot out of a cannon, making glorious mischief.