Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Most recent album, Sea Glass (2015)
Highly original, but see comments below
She has a wonderful voice, is a powerful songwriter and an amazing guitar player—a guitar goddess. She is one of those rare artists that I actually look forward to hearing instrumental work from—I'm usually much more interested in songs and the interaction of vocals and instruments—she's that good a guitarist. Susan is what (if she weren't so damn good at making actual music out of it) I'd call a guitar wanker—she plays showy, experimental stuff, that because she's such a good musician, is powerful and melodic. But I do love her songs and vocals, too. (Neile)
Comments about live performance:
Susan James is INCREDIBLE! Imagine a female Michael Hedges mixed with some Sonic Youth. She played her first tune at blinding speed and with flawless dexterity. For another tune, "Poison," she inserted a small piece of paper behind the bass strings of her electric and fingerpicked an "evil-sounding" (her words) thunky bass riff throughout the tune. To end, she did another wicked number on acoustic, ending the piece by holding the guitar against her amp, making a swirling nimbus of noise. The whole set was un-be-fuggin'-lievable, one of the best sets of original music I've witnessed in a long, long time. (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)
Recommended first album:
1990—Uncivilized Music, U.S.A.
high for lovers of edgy folk/rock
Susan James—vocals, guitar, mandolin, percussion, wine glasses, piano strings
Ty Daugherty—wine glasses
While she's grown as a musician and songwriter from the time she made this, it still shows a maturity of both style and songwriting, and of course Susan's strong voice. There are some songs here that I replay and replay and replay, particularly the beautifully constructed (yes, this song actually feels like running) "Run" and the achingly lovely "From Across The Sea" and "Far Away" (luckily for the rewind button on my tape player these three songs are in a row). The album is a little more on the acoustic-folky singer/songwriter end of her style, and though it is mostly rock-flavoured, it's not quite as edgy as her later work. (Neile)
1996—Major Label Records
High for lovers of experimental rocking music
Susan James—vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, muted guitar, leslie guitars, synth, chimes, bass, weird feedback noises
Travis Dickerson and Susan James
It's an eclectic mix of straightahead rock ("Rock Star"), a couple of almost folky cuts ("Eileen", which is the song the title comes from), and a couple of experimental-flavoured cuts. "Poison", my favourite song on the album, actually rather reminds me of Kathleen Yearwood and Emily Bezar. She's an amazing guitarist and a great songwriter and has a powerful voice. It took me a few listens to "get" Shocking Pink Banana Seat but I love it now! It's full of catchy songs that will keep you hitting the replay button on your disc player. At least, that's the way it works for me. (Neile)
1998—Red Letter Records.—644607 06982 6
CD One: "Lovesick" The Songs:
CD Two: "Stranger Bedfellows" The Instrumentals:
Wow. Both of these discs are fascinating music. The song disc is pretty straightforward hook-laden rock, while the instrumental disc is slightly experimental and musically intriguing. I'm still on my first few listens, but am hooked enough to know I'll be listening a lot. It's as great as her live shows promised. Like her previous albums, this took a while to grow into my head, and to my surprise one of my favourite songs here is a country-ish song. How did she pull that one off? (I am not a country fan). Anyway, if you like rock and great songwriting and guitar work and a strong rich voice, GET THIS! (Neile)
DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.
|Entry last updated 2015-06-24 21:53:11.
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