Oh Susanna (Nettwerk) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Less haunted than the ghostly alt-country ballads on 2001's Sleepy Little Sailor, Oh Susanna's self-titled follow-up is a polished, accomplished gem that runs from Appalachian roots to Stax-style soul-rock, with all the shades in between. Like labelmates the Be Good Tanyas, Oh Susanna has a gift for crafting authentic-sounding old-school tunes that never seem like bloodless revivalism. Here, her voice plays chameleon as well, switching from a Gillian Welch quaver on the bittersweet back-porch ditty Down By The Quarry to a rich Bonnie Raitt soul purr on Right By Your Side. The production is perfectly sparse, and her country take on Nico's Dylan-penned I'll Keep It With Mine is one of the best I've ever heard.
Oh Susanna launches her new disc at the Cameron House tonight (Thursday, September 4).