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Susan Court


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

ethereal, evocative pop/rock

Status:

Susan Court's song-based music is on hiatus; she is currently concentrating on soundtrack work. Most recent release, High Relief (1998)

See also:

Punchbeam, Susan Maughlin Wood's site for her soundtrack work; Punchbeam's bandcamp site

CD Baby's page for Susan Court

The War Against Silence review of High Relief

Comparisons:

Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Sandra Lockwood

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Susan Court has obviously learned a lot of her vocal techniques from Kate Bush and Tori Amos, but she has a very individual sensibility, and the more I listen to her, the more clearly I hear her unique voice and songwriting. Susan is greatly talented and is a distinctive and charming songwriter. (Neile)

Susan Court is wonderful! Fabulous! Can't say enough good things about her!
     No, really. She has a very benevolent sense of life—not a lot of edge, anxiety, depression, or malevolence. Kate Bush is a point of departure for her, but she's very much her own artist. (psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

Chalk me up as another Susan Court fan. I purchased her CD High Relief after hearing her MP3s and was not disappointed. A great find! (trow@interbridge.com)

She is amazing, it borders on Kate Bush The Dreaming type of sound a little. (RocketsTail@aol.com)

Comments about live performance:

Hearing Susan Court live, the piano basis of the songs is front and center, and it was impressive. The piano arrangements are knockouts, and Susan's piano work is strong enough that I didn't miss her wonderful studio backup musicians. I'd highly recommend catching her if she plays anywhere near you. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

High Relief only album to date

Recordings:


Susan Court

Release info:

1995—demo tape—no number

Availability:

Out of print

Comments:

Please note: all four songs on this demo release are included in High Relief.

This is a four-song demo tape showing wonderful promise. Each song shows a different kind of strength. "Chameleon," lively and fun, introduces Susan Court's voice and work. "Fundevogel" magically retells a story from Grimm's Fairy Tales. "Senses Out," a beautifully constructed song (especially the way the cello winds around Susan Court's vocals), draws you right into her emotional world. "Floodletting," a quirky twist of vocals, cello, and piano, has an especially haunting chorus. (Neile)

susan court is nifty! "chameleon" is pretty poppy and doesn't leave much of an impression to me. the second track, "fundevogel" is a magnificent tale with a hauntingly familiar melody and nice synth pads. The other songs two are also sublime and stunning. musically, her music is very synth-based, strongly melodic, simple, but very powerful. (woj@smoe.org)


High Relief

Release info:

1998—Fundeling Productions, P.O. Box 61128, Seattle, WA 98191, U.S.A.—FP90732

Availability:

See CD Baby's page for Susan Court

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Susan Court—vocals, keyboards, arrangements

Guest artists:

Jami Sieber—cellos
John Morton—guitar
Mark Yeend—drums
Tim Miller—percussion
Jonathan Burns—bass
Ted Kamp—upright bass
Garey Shelton—fretless bass
Robert Puff—recorder
Mary Lord—lute

Produced by:

Susan Court, Larz Nefzger, Tom Hall

Comments:

this album is a gem! she has a lovely voice...uniquely her own, though i do occasionally think of kate bush in a few songs. echoes of someone else, too, though i can't put a finger on it right now. laur just said that at the beginning of "thread" she's reminded of alanis morissette, which despite my initial surprise i think is a pretty good comparison—she does sound a bit like a more-gentle-than-usual alanis, voice-wise.
     the instrumentation is lovely, and well-done...not to mention original and interesting. she does out-of-the-ordinary things with the music in a lot of the songs that catch my ear and intrigue me, which is a quality i value (i think most ectophiles do :)
     it's hard to pick favourites—the whole album is strong, in my opinion—but the songs that have stood out are "parrish blue"; "galahad"—a very bright and fun song (i think there's something inherently bright and fun about the recorder); the funky backing vocals in "high relief"; "fundevogel (do not forsake me)"—a neat hansel-and-gretel-esque story (not really, but it involves a boy, a girl and a witch-type) with great harmonies in the chorus; and my favourite track of all, i think, is the last, "between the quiet"—a nice, gentle arrangement in which a piano plays the prominent instrumental part. but i've always been a sucker for the piano (and violins).
     high relief on headphones really knocked me for a loop...which is especially impressive because it already had on the old 'blaster. but the earphones revealed a landscape of subtle instrumentation (vocal and otherwise) and melodic undercurrents i'd simply missed before. i must say, a lot of the things i can now hear going on in the background do definitely put me in mind of kate bush, making that comparison, which i'd never quite gotten before, seem much more apt. and i can really hear tori amos now in bits of "chameleon". i've also finally been able to make the comparison that's been nagging me since i first heard the album but that i couldn't quite seem to articulate: susan court's voice reminds me *very much* of noa's. it almost seems odd, in a few places, not to hear gil dor's distinctive guitar playing. :)
     it seems a little rash to say this on the basis of one album, but i really think susan is worming her way into my personal pantheon. then again, maybe not so rash—both kate bush and veda hille swooped into my goddess list on the basis of an album or two and i have been far from disappointed :) i'm definitely looking forward to confirmation with a second album.
     i definitely recommend this album! (damon)

The female singer-songwriter field has become very crowded over the last couple of years, but Susan's CD manages to sound like no-one else. Kate is an obvious influence but only as an inspiration not a blue-print. Take my advice: buy this album! (GTP10@cus.cam.ac.uk)

I'm now a proud owner of the Susan Court album. "Between the Quiet" might be my favourite track too. I always love piano tunes like that. Yummy. "Senses Out", "Chameleon" and "Floodletting" are my other 3 faves at the moment. Neat songs.... The opening to "Parrish Blue" kind of reminds me of "Better than Ever" by this Australian group Brunatex. Is anybody familiar with them? They're from Adelaide. Wild and crazy vocals and music. Sort of like what would happen if Kate Bush joined up with Too Pure groups.... (scottz@best.com)

She has an individual way of singing. I'm not quite certain how to describe it but she almost evades the notes, as though her voice hits them and then ducks. It's odd but effective. And she's a very creative songwriter—and like other songwriters we know of, isn't afraid to use intriguing references. "Fundevogel (do not forsake me)" is a retelling of a Grimm's fairy tale. "Parrish Blue" refers to the artist Maxfield Parrish.... And she even allow herself a sense of humour with "Cameleon" and "Sir Galahad". I agree with Damon that "Between the Quiet" might be my favourite track, though I still love the lush "Senses Out" and "Floodletting" which I knew from her demo cassette, and "High Relief" and "Parrish Blue". As Damon says, she certainly knows how to arrange a song in intriguing ways, with backup musicians and vocal harmonies. Mmmm.
     And the artwork on the album and booklet is outstanding—for some reason the eggshell picture (with some of her lyrics inside) gives me the shivers. Anyway, so does the music. The disc is a beauty. (Neile)

Wow!" is an incredible understatement to describe Susan Court. Her songs are beautifully orchestrated, and the lyrics are phenomenal. My favorite songs on High Relief are "Sir Galahad", and "Parish Blue." I remember reading a comparison to Kate Bush. It is a good comparison, but doesn't tell the whole story. Susan has fresh, original voice and material. My only complaint with High Relief is that it was too short. I'm ready for a double live CD. (alex.teitz@state.co.us

Although I like it, I haven't fallen in love with it like most people here. I find the album pretty varied. On some songs she sounds like one of the girls from Rasputina without the dissonance. Others sound very '80s for some reason. Must be the drum tracks. I was also sort of surprised to find out how non-melodic the songs were—she seems to rely heavily on complex rhythms instead, and seems to use the natural rhythms of spoken English to form the songs. While this album isn't bad, it just doesn't do much at all for me. I like a couple of the more traditional folksy tunes, but the rest just reminds me of some early '80s synth pop, and her voice sounds nothing like Kate Bush to me.
     However, I do find the album quite interesting and definitely ambitious. The artwork is really lovely.(jjhanson@att.net)

High Relief seems to have set up permanent residence in my CD player. I've found out about a lot of really amazing music in the last few months, and this one is right up there with the best of the lot. A huge thank-you to everyone who has been praising Susan here on Ecto. Everyone else, do check it out! Oh, and just in case there happen to be any Kate Bush fans on the list, the recommendation is even higher for you, go order this album now! (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

after the first listen I think it was the money well spent. Thank you all for another great recommendation! (afries@zip.com.au)

I bought this cd a long time ago and listened to it once and sort of tossed it aside because it really didn't do much for me. Well last night I decided to give it another try and...WOW! I really can't believe it's taking me this long to appreciate this cd but it's a terrific piece of work. This is definitely one of my favorite cds now. (RocketsTail@aol.com)


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Artists commented on by
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Tori Amos

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Emily Bezar

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Tracy Bonham

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Rachel Taylor Brown

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Susan Court

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ani difranco

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Aimee Mann

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