Oh Susanna is a veteran in the Canadian music scene by now, but this was my first time seeing her perform. I knew she was a prolific songwriter, excelling at story-telling tunes, but I had no idea how talented she really is until her CMW set. Or how deep her roots within the scene go. She’s also brilliant and adventurous. She had the idea a while back to reach out and ask her musician friends on Facebook to write songs for an album that will be comprised of said songs.
She played many of the songs at this show, and even had a six-song sampler for the upcoming record that she gave out, including tracks by Joel Plaskett, Royal Wood, Keri Latimer, Ron Sexsmith and A. Presley, Jim Bryson and Melissa McClelland. What an interesting and brave project. The album will be called Namedropper.
The album was initially planned to be out last fall, however Oh Susanna was diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemotherapy, hence delaying the progress with the album. In fact, the CMW show, part of the Sonic Unyon showcase, was her first in about a year. I’m happy to report that it went swimmingly and she looked great; so cute with short hair (there’s a definite resemblance to Natalie Portman).
Her country folk music has ample sweetness and a touch of sass. At this show, the songs she played by other writers took her away from the country feel a little bit and more into rock and pop styles, which she seemed at ease with. Her voice is as strong as ever; she has a clear and strong tone that sounds a lot like Emmylou Harris. Her song ‘I’ll Always Be’ was recorded live on the Mike Bullard show a while back, and highlights the pure tone in her voice, as well as the control she maintains throughout her wide vocal range. It also reveals that sass I mentioned earlier.
Photos by Stephanie Beatson.