A GIRL IN TEEN CITY
Continental Song City
A Teenage Folk Opera From One of Canada’s Finest Singer-Songwriters.
Even though I own one of her earlier albums Suzie Ungerleider aka Oh Susanna has flown under my radar for a few years now; probably because I don’t recall her ever playing in NE England (although I could be wrong of course).
Several friends are huge fans and have travelled many hundreds of miles to see her sing in concert; so it was with massive interest that I slipped this shiny disc into the office stereo.
Mmmmmmmm…..Opening song Flashlights is very nice indeed; and I could instantly tell from her distinctive voice why my friends are smitten with the young lady from Vancouver. Even this early into the album I was impressed with the way Susie tells her story using clever couplets and simple language.
While each song about a young girl struggling to come to terms with life, love and growing up in a small time stands apart in its own rite; A GIRL IN TEEN CITY links them together into a type of narrative.
With that in mind songs like Tickets on the Weekend and the heartbreaking Walked All The Way Home will resonate with many of us; not just young girls…..that’s for sure.
Most songs here are acoustic or acousticish; but that doesn’t stop the articulate My Boyfriend taking on a bit of a Bangles Pop-Rock sound and will, no doubt become a fan favourite in concert.
The detail in some of the lyrics is exceptional; the way Suzie describes seeing WOLF BOY for the very first time made my heart bulge as I remembered that ‘feeling’ of seeing someone ‘special’ for the very first time; then the subsequent glimpses and glances. All that coupled with some pulsating piano playing and a band that sounds like an orchestra couple to make for a very theatrical three and a half minutes.
A simple song tucked away somewhere in the middle took my breath away; as again it captured a moment in my own life; The Darkroom At The School; and must be the only song ever to describe sexual tension by using developing a photograph as a metaphor; ‘pushing up the f-stop a half/in the darkroom at the school.’ I loved it and it made me smile.
As a photographer myself that song was obviously a contender for ‘favourite song’ but instead I will go for the brilliantly fragile My Old Vancouver which made my tilt my head towards the speakers as the narrator finally gets to look back on those heady teenage years with the benefit of age and some hindsight; but not rose coloured glasses.
For what it’s worth when Mrs. Magpie heard this for the first time; she was reading a Sunday newspaper and eventually looked up, slightly puzzled then mouthed, “Nanci Griffith?”
While Oh Susanna does have a distinctive singing voice and a very personal way of constructing her songs; I immediately knew what my wife meant as there is a definite ‘air’ of the young Nanci Griffith all the way through A GIRL IN TEEN CITY and that’s not a bad thing at all.
Released UK May 12th 2017
Released North America May 26th 2017