Oh Susanna
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Oh Susanna

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Only Suzie Ungerleider could write a song called "Drunk As A Sailor" and make it sound beautiful.

You can expect the usual gentle, rootsy folk from Oh Susanna's fifth full-length, and as always, there's a chiefly caustic album hiding under Soon The Birds' serene surface. Ungerleider has no qualms about dropping lines like "get fucked on alcohol" and "You flipped the bird and mooned your meat" (both from standout ditty, "Your Town").

The misery is relentless: engagement rings are hocked, families are abandoned, stagecoaches are robbed, people are murdered and the album ends with a widowing. Ungerleider mentions a "wheel of misfortune" in "Pretty Blue Eyes," and that's a decent way to describe this disc as a whole.

Despite all its despair, Soon The Birds is never a depressing album. Ungerleider and her pack of veteran musicians (Blue Rodeo's Bazil Donovan, Kathleen Edwards guitarist Gord Tough and Weeping Tile drummer Cam Giroux) are working with too soothing a palette to ever create something somber. It's almost tender enough to make you feel sorry for the robber/murderer in "By Rope" who gets caught and hanged. - CHARTattack


**** – August 2007
It opens with a sweet, joyous love song, beautifully sung, folky, with judicious use of strings – a warm, full mood that the Canadian singer-songwriter returns to a few more times on her fine fourth album. For fans of her darker side there’s Three Shots and Greyhound Bus, plus a fine slow cowboy/border song, Filled With Gold.
MOJO magazine

- MOJO magazine


**** – August 2007
Fourth from Vancouver songbird
Fitting between spectral folk and downbeat blues, 2003’s eponymous last LP earned Oh Susanna several rave notices over here. This time around, Suzie Ungerleider’s intention was to make more of a “band” record. But the pianos, steel and strings are so artfully understated that she still sounds as lost and wind-bitten as before. There’s a Southern soul feel to much of this lovely music, particularly “Schoolyard” and clear standout “Greyhound Bus”. And while there are hints of Appalachia, the other gilded moment is “Holy Roller”, a spare, folksy beauty set to equally lonesome piano.

- UNCUT magazine


HIGHLIGHTS

“Short Stories”
**** – August 2007
It opens with a sweet, joyous love song, beautifully sung, folky, with judicious use of strings – a warm, full mood that the Canadian singer-songwriter returns to a few more times on her fine fourth album.
MOJO magazine

**** – August 2007
…the pianos, steel and strings are so artfully understated that she still sounds as lost and wind-bitten as before. There’s a Southern soul feel to much of this lovely music, particularly “Schoolyard” and clear standout “Greyhound Bus”. And while there are hints of Appalachia, the other gilded moment is “Holy Roller”, a spare, folksy beauty set to equally lonesome piano.
UNCUT magazine

That voice really is a marvel, a haunting, expressive instrument that can proudly stand alongside those of Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch in the roots elite. This album [Short Stories] stresses mood and narrative over melody to stunning effect.
Exclaim!

On Oh Susanna’s aptly titled Short Stories, the singer (whose real name is Suzie Ungerleider) uses her clear and lonesome country voice to tell sweetly poignant tales about people who are damaged by love or bullies, take off on a Greyhound bus to look for their long-lost daughter or fall in a heap on the floor, shot dead.
Elle

Suddenly, the stark acoustic blues of her debut EP, the dreamy pop, and the band-driven rock that followed all seem to have been heading toward this point: a lightly burnished naturalness that perfectly reflects the material rather than underplaying it or tugging too hard at its corners.
The Toronto Star

Her tales of love, loss and yearning are utterly engrossing and sung with a delivery that gives them weight beyond the words. Like those in a good book, Ungerleider’s characters linger long after the last notes of each song fade, putting her in a class above your typical troubadour. This woman is a writer – she just happens to sing her stories rather than type them out.
FFWD



“Oh Susanna”
**** Essential Americana Album - July 2003
MOJO magazine

**** - July 2003
UNCUT magazine

Oh Susanna has become a musician to be reckoned with.... The strength and intensity of her voice has an edge that conveys the evil of country blues.
No Depression

Her narrative force, incisive and amazingly detailed lyrics, and simple musical approach mark her as an artist to watch.
Billboard

Not to take away from neo-hayseed Gillian Welch, but Canadian singer Oh Susanna is on the frontlines of the real alt-country revolution.
L.A. Weekly

A solo performance by Oh Susanna is a singularly spine-tingling event.
The Georgia Straight

Oh Susanna has that rare ability to recapture American mythology that places her in the rich tradition of Leadbelly, Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen.
Drop D Magazine

“Oh Susanna” - Critics’ Top Albums of 2003 - Rolling Stone.com

Suzie Ungerleider (aka Oh Susanna) might be Canadian, but she started out, six or seven years ago, like some slinky Appalachian fox, emoting songs of death and dying and ghosts and jail in a parched voice of rustic mountain yip. Her latest album (a self-titled affair) shows how much she has grown, how far she has traveled, and yet also how true she has stayed to her roots. It is some feat, and some album. Reminiscent of Janis Joplin, Carole King, Maria McKee, even Crazy Horse, “Oh Susanna” is a big, whiskey-soaked rock album – but still with a deft folk twang and deep country roots. Where once she tippy-toed through the gloom and the gloamin’, now she swaggers full-force in the sun like a bastard. It is sultry and sensual, strings-drenched, guitar crunching, horn-driven fare. Wonderful in fact.
Time Out London

- Various


Like the rest of her fourth full-length, this moving lead-off [“Pretty Face”] track serves the larger function of bringing the stylistic wanderings of her previous releases sharply into focus. Suddenly, the stark acoustic blues of her debut EP, the dreamy pop, and the band-driven rock that followed all seem to have been heading toward this point: a lightly burnished naturalness that perfectly reflects the material rather than underplaying it or tugging too hard at its corners. Part of that can be chalked up to the co-production by Blue Rodeo's Bazil Donovan. A bigger part is Suzie Ungerleider's willingness to have taken the winding journey to get from there to here. - The Toronto Star


On her 2003 self-titled disc, Suzie Ungerleider added decidedly rock elements to her troubadour template to oft-bracing effect. She returns to her roots here by emphasizing her voice and lyrics, and rises to the challenge with graceful ease. That voice really is a marvel, a haunting, expressive instrument that can proudly stand alongside those of Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch in the roots elite. Sparse and subtle accompaniment comes from her A-list players, including Luke Doucet, David Baxter, Blue Rodeo’s Bazil Donovan and Bob Packwood, Justin Rutledge (who harmonies beautifully on “Pretty Penny”) and drummer/hubby Cam Giroux. Strings are used judiciously and effectively on “Miss Liberty” and powerful closer “Filled With Gold.” Lyrically, Suzie presents a rich, colourful cast of characters, telling their stories with real empathy. There’s the “beauty queen strapped to a Coke machine” and the teenager who gave up her baby then ran off to “hang my heart on a hitching post where they got clean air to breathe” on “Greyhound Bus.” Even Billy The Kid makes an appearance, via her fine cover of Dylan’s “Billy 4.” This album stresses mood and narrative over melody to stunning effect. - Exclaim!



On Oh Susanna’s aptly titled Short Stories (Outside Music), the singer (whose real name is Suzie Ungerleider) uses her clear and lonesome country voice – sparsely accompanied by members of Blue Rodeo – to tell sweetly poignant tales about people who are damaged by love or bullies, take off on a Greyhound bus to look for their long-lost daughter or fall in a heap on the floor, shot dead. MARY DICKIE

- Elle


Discography

Soon The Birds (2011)
Short Stories (2007)
Oh Susanna (2003)
Sleep Little Sailor (2001)
Johnstown (1999)
Oh Susanna EP (1997)

Photos

Bio

When Oh Susanna first dreamed of making music, she wanted to create songs that would stand the test of time – just like the Stephen Foster classic from which she takes her name. With the release of her sixth album, SOON THE BIRDS, she has again achieved this dream with a collection of enduring songs that resonate deeper and deeper upon each listen. Her voice, always a marvel, is a haunting, expressive instrument that she uses to stunning effect on SOON THE BIRDS, a beautifully rendered album by an artist who has realized the full power of her voice as a narrative songwriter.

In a career spanning just over a decade, Oh Susanna has released five critically acclaimed records noted for their contemplative, thoughtful, folk-inspired songs that transport listeners into an imaginary emotional landscape. Whether applauding a young woman’s need to stand tall in the face of dire circumstances, expressing love and tenderness to a dying loved one or embodying the anger of a soldier’s widow, Oh Susanna’s songs aim straight for the gut. The timeless themes of love, loss and longing are expressed in soaring melodies and vivid lyrics. These songs beg careful listening.

“I like to take people into a dream world and make them reflect on what’s essential,” explains the singer-songwriter, “In this world, the idea of slowing down and looking inward is really important.”

“My songs often are about a crossroads in someone’s life, about someone facing a choice. I love when a song unwraps the layers of a person or situation and makes us look at all the facets and contradictions. We don’t always understand our own desires and motivations and I like songs that ask questions rather than give answers.”

She credits Juno Award winning producer David Travers-Smith (Jane Siberry, Wailin’ Jennys) with the album’s rich, layered sound. With a loose recording schedule, they were able to work on SOON THE BIRDS for more than a year, allowing for a more organic production process and room for experimentation. “It was the first time since JOHNSTOWN (Oh Susanna’s 1999 debut full-length album) that I had the luxury of time. Here we could change things. We could work slowly and get the right feeling and mood.”

The Oh Susanna/Travers-Smith collaboration yielded the integration of the talents of more than 30 musicians. The players, who read like a Who’s Who of the Canadian roots music scene, include Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy (duet on Lucky Ones), renowned guitarist Kevin Breit (Rosanne Cash, Nora Jones), vocalists Ruth Moody (Wailin’ Jennys) and Brenley McEachern (Madison Violet) and members of the Foggy Hogtown Boys. Handpicked to add their unique sounds to SOON THE BIRDS, these artists join longtime band members bassist Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo), guitarist Gord Tough (Kathleen Edwards) and drummer Cam Giroux (Weeping Tile, Ron Sexsmith).

A stand-out in terms of feeling and mood is Van Dyke Parks’ arrangement of Oh Susanna’s song 1941 (a bonus track available online). The legendary composer/producer (Beach Boys, Ry Cooder, Rufus Wainwright and Loudon Wainwright III) gives this ode to school friends lost to the Holocaust a truly cinematic orchestral treatment.

With SOON THE BIRDS, Oh Susanna brings her breathtakingly effortless countrified alto into the foreground with a collection of haunting songs that shine light into the darker areas of the human experience.

Visit www.outside-music.ca / www.ohsusanna.com
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Publicist: Joanne Setterington joanne@indoorrecess.com
416.703.5217