Flyinshoes Review

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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year

Rob Ellen

OH SUSANNA —SOON THE BIRDS (Continental Song) 

Soon The Birds is the sixth full-length album from Canadian act, Oh Susanna (Suzie Ungerleider) and such is the strength of the melodies to go with her songwriting I would venture to say it is one of her best recordings to date. 


Ever since she debuted with Johnstown in 1999 she has kept a remarkable high standard of work, and when at her best there is a longing in her vocals the listener is repeatedly snared by it. As in the desperate album centre piece ‘By Rope’. That contains splendid mandolin, fiddle and mandocello to with not only her own vocals but harmony vocals of former Wailin’ Jennys act Ruth Moody and Brenley MacEachern. The small town dependency on drink as in ‘So Long’ and to a degree ‘Your Town’ and of doing wrong and on finding the pathway that best suits in this ol’ world makes for poignant listening. It is a roller-coaster ride Suzie takes in ‘Long Black Train’ and the title-cut ‘Soon The Birds’. That speaks poetically of migratory habits and of how she had it all, and though separated all is necessarily lost for in another year they will be reunited.


Supported by Cam Giroux, Basil Donovan, Burke Carroll, Kevin Breit, Burke Carroll and producer, David Travers-Smith among others, Oh Susanna sings about heartache and of how she learns to live with the shame on ‘Millions Of Rivers’. Like most all her songs it is of a melancholy nature but that matters none. Hence ‘Lucky Ones’ that has fellow Canadian act Jim Cuddy figure on harmony vocals the music and emotional content could not be better. If I were to compare Soon The Birds with her previous records I would venture to say the music and general content is a little less sombre, and easier to slot into as she eases back a little.  This is not to say the album has some melancholy moments, it does as she ambles through the likes of ‘She What Promises Can Bring’ and the reflective, imagery spilled ‘Your Town’ plus the forlorn, beautifully constructed ‘By Rope’. That deals with the life and times of a train and stage coach robber. Western times revisited. A powerful story enriched in banjo, fiddle, mandocello and harmony vocals that speak of a hanging being the result of the desperate deeds done as a member of the Williams gang. This for me is Oh Susanna at her best as her rich strong tones produce a wondrous melody; whether she is pining for a loved one or speaking of an old folk tale she has few peers.


                                        Maurice Hope


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This site is the sister site to The House Concert Hub community and has been inherited in the main by kind donation of Shaun Belcher and Trailer Star.

It is the sum total of over ten years of tending a tender love of music by Shaun, a life time with Trailer Star and five or so years of an association with Rob Ellen from Medicine Music.

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Here starts an other adventure.

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December 2018
Malford Milligan
75 pts.
Life Will Humble You
Royal Family Records
JD McPherson
61 pts.
New West Records
Rosanne Cash
50 pts.
She Remembers Everything
Blue Note Records
Ad Vanderveen
45 pts.
I Was Hank William
Blue Rose Records
John Hiatt
44 pts.
The Eclipse Sessions
New West
The Yearlings
41 pts.
Lonely Sounds Records
Tip Jar
40 pts.
Nathan Bell
39 pts.
Loves Bones & Stars
Angry Stick Recording Co.
The Brother Brothers
38 pts.
Some People I Know
Compass Records
Richard Dobson
30 pts.
I Hear Singing
Brambus Records
Steve Forbert
29 pts.
The Magic Tree
Blue Rose Music
J.P. Harris
28 pts.
Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
Free Dirt Records
The Bottle Rockets
24 pts.
Bit Logic
Bloodshot Records
Rodney Crowell
23 pts.
Christmas Everywhere
New West
Christian Kjellvander
22 pts.
Wild Hxmans
Erin Costelo
21 pts.
Sweet Marie
Compass Records
Colter Wall
20 pts.
Songs of the Plains
Young Mary's Record
The Hillbenders
19 pts.
The Hillbenders
Compass Records
Eric Bibb
18 pts.
Global Griot
Stony Plain
Karine Polwart
18 pts.
Laws of Motion
Hudson Records
Carson McHone
17 pts.
Nine Mile Records
Malcolm Holcombe
17 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
Ben Bedford
16 pts.
The Hermit's Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings
Craig Moreau
16 pts.
A Different Kind Of Train
David Olney
16 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music

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