Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Suzanne Lavine: “Crystal Clear” (2019) CD Review

Suzanne Lavine is a singer and songwriter based in Pennsylvania. Her new release, Crystal Clear, signals her return to music after quite a long absence. This EP contains all original material, written by Suzanne Lavine, who takes some inspiration from some of the 1960s folk-rock bands, and perhaps a bit from the paisley underground bands of the 1980s as well. She has a good group of musicians backing her on this release, including Marc Seligman (whom you might know from Fools On Sunday) on bass, Seth Baer (whom you might know from his work with The Original Sins and The Ben Vaughn Quintet) on drums, and Cliff Hillis (whom you might know from his own solo career) on guitar and keys. Cliff Hillis, Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried provide backing vocals.

The EP opens with “Hangin’ Around,” a cool and interesting tune. There is a bit of a folk feel to it, but with a solid rock style, a good groove, and some nice touches on keys. And of course, the lyrics have a pop feel: “Just hangin’ around in the afternoon/It’s such a cold day, will you be here soon/Just hangin’ around in the afternoon/Waiting for your call, won’t you follow through.” There is a light, kind of breezy, fun vibe to this tune. That’s followed by “Hurry Up And Kiss Me,” which has something of a similar style, a cheerful folk-rock vibe with 1960s influences, a bit of a Byrds thing happening. It is a catchy and sweet tune. “You’re running all the time/I’m asleep by nine/So hurry up and kiss me/Please tell me that you’ll miss me.”

“Crystal Clear,” the EP’s title track, has some delicious, trippy touches. It might at first seem like a sweet-sounding pop song, but the lyrics have something of a bite, which I like. “Can’t explain what I mean/Is this real or just a silly dream/Seems crystal clear/I don’t want you near.” Ah, yup, the person she is addressing seems a bit daft, and at the end she has to repeat “It’s crystal clear/It’s crystal clear.” This is one of my favorite tracks. And it is followed by my other favorite, “Bridges.” I really dig this song’s groove, which is strong from the start. Later, the song returns to this opening bit, which sounds like it could fit into some 1970s detective show, a scene in an alley close to the show’s climax. You know? Anyway, it’s a totally enjoyable song, with some playful work on backing vocals. “Don’t get me wrong/How was I to know you might be gone/For so long.” Then “Comfortable Chair” is a slower pop tune, with a pretty vocal performance. “I often wonder/But it makes no sense/Because we are here/And we’re living in the present tense.” The EP then concludes with “Lucky Charm,” which is also a slower one, an unusual sort of love song. “My eyes are set on you/And the beautiful things you do/You fell into my arms/Now you’re my lucky charm.” It then starts to build, feeling like it might burst into another level, and features some oddly soothing backing vocals toward the end.

CD Track List
  1. Hangin’ Around
  2. Hurry Up And Kiss Me
  3. Crystal Clear
  4. Bridges
  5. Comfortable Chair
  6. Lucky Charm
Crystal Clear was released on May 4, 2019.

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