SusannaSonnata – April 22nd
If you flinch easily, look away now; Norwegian chanteuse Susanna doesn’t shy away from cutting straight to the bone. The opening refrain of Triangle‘s eerie, 90-second introductory tune ‘Holy/Scared’ is “Nothing is holy, holy, holy/ Nothing is sacred, sacred, sacred”. It’s your warning, because things only get more raw and weird from this point on.
But, having previously tackled tracks from some of the biggest names in the music world, Susanna had already dispensed with the sacred. Heavyweights including Leonard Bernstein and Dolly Parton, and later AC/DC, Leonard Cohen, Thin Lizzy and ABBA area amongst those covered in her repertoire and Susanna dispatched these duties with aplomb.
In the past, she’s teamed up with a variety of songwriters, musicians and poets to craft a bevy of collaborations as well as 10 albums on an array of labels, but it’s Triangle that, perhaps for the first time ever, truly shines the spotlight on Susanna and her musical persona.
Susanna admits to ‘pushing the boundaries’ for ‘what a song can be, what an album can be’ on Triangle, and she certainly succeeds over these 22 intense and direct songs. They’re well written, superbly performed and expertly recorded, but it remains a daunting listen as a result of her unrelenting directness. Susanna’s voice dials straight into the centre of the mix on each of the delicate songs; think Kate Bush with a bewitching blast of arctic coolness and you’re getting close.
As an album, it’s an epic and difficult listen compared to her earlier work as Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. Triangle sees Susanna go straight for the jugular, often armed with only a piano to support her voice over the 70 minutes. The intimacy and directness is beguiling, but it’s also exhausting: you’ve been warned.
Buy: Susanna – Triangle