home listen reviews a-z
Susan in the studio


These words about a beautiful record we all might never have heard is a serendipitous connection of dots. A schoolteacher in Appleton WI (Houdini's town) gave a tape of her songs to a guitar player who passed through town, who gave it to a friend who has a studio in Nashville. I dropped in to the studio one night, Jack was mixing, I said "Who's that?"

You know a spark when you see it, you know an unspoiled sound when it's in the air. So I sat down and listened to some songs. Although the first attempt at capturing the sound in her head allegedly did not pan out, she came again, different players this time. Johnny Cash's bass player, Patty Griffin's guitar player, another who plays with John Fogerty, Paul McCartney's favorite bass player and his wife on trumpet--welcome to Nashville. And a handful of other greats who can bring a song to greater life, transparently.

Really good songs, like "Lisuyara Ornadel," of a woman in a place called Wookey Hole in Somerset, who tempted the singer to go with her to Glastonbury, and said she'd keep a smile in her heart for her. The writer remembers her anticipating a holiday in Tenerife (the Canary Island where I once planned to begin a different identity) at her public school job. Or the tragic death of George McGovern's daughter in "Theresa Jane," when she laid down in the snow, never to awaken. Really good songs like the hidden track, "My Drunk Baby," with an inspired cello track by Matt Turner.

But we all might never have heard it, because how are you supposed to know that www.grenvillerecords.com exists or to look for Susan Howe there? I don't know. If you google the artist's name, the site you want doesn't come up until the bottom of the second page and is easy to miss. So we're happy to have been turned on to it serendipitously, and to pass it along, because this record needs to be heard. It doesn't say who produced it, but I saw Jack Irwin pour a lot of time and inspired energy into its life. Susan Howe is an original, lend her your ears.
• Frank Goodman

Susan Howe listen to clips
return to covers
buy it here or here
puremusic home