Friday, May 6, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: SUZIE VINNICK - ME 'N' MABEL
I got to catch up with Suzie at last month's East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown, and as always she was in fine form, entertaining her many Atlantic friends. "Whoa there, Bob-o," I hear them saying from Ontar-I-O, "Suzie V's one of ours. What's she doing playing the EC-MA's?" Fear not, Upper Canadian chums, Suz isn't pulling a Stephen Fearing and pitching tent down here now. It's just that for the first time, the ECMA's decided to showcase some other province's talent, folks that want to play more in the Maritimes, and give the local buyers and festivals a little look.
Suzie was one of them, as she has already made some inroads into this area. She's a great favourite at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, has appeared a few times and commands a solid following thanks to those shows. Wisely, she now wants to conquer the entire blues-loving East. She's a multiple-Maple Blues champ already, and really, who doesn't want to spend more time here on the ocean? It's a musician's paradise, they all say.
I'm not here to sell you on moving (although I can't figure out why you wouldn't, given the ridiculously cheap real estate, relaxing lifestyle and plentiful lobster), I'm here to talk up Suzie, and her above latest. It's one of the great love stories; Romeo and Juliet, Bogie and Bacall, Suzie and Mabel. Um, Mabel is actually Suzie's guitar, a lovely little Canadian-made acoustic that she chooses to rip out her blues numbers on. Now, in the past, Vinnick's discs have been rootsy singer-songwriter ones, or a duet with buddy Rick Fines. This one is her first true blues disc, and it's her at her best, mostly solo and acoustic.
Stripped down, she's pretty much got to give it up and make it good, and you get that for sure. She has all the necessary talents, including fine technique, excellent knowledge and choice of material, strong talent as a writer, and, above it all, her fun and commanding voice. What I love about Suzie is her total confidence in all of it, as she hits the stage (or the record button), ready to grab you and keep you glued.
Sometimes albums of all one style can get tedious, but Vinnick breaks up the rhythm with some smart song choices. There's not one overplayed cover here, and the songs range from a Dylan religious blues, Quit Your Lowdown Ways, to fellow Canadian Rita Chiarelli's retro Get Some, to the old Three Dog Night hit, Never Been To Spain. Add some of Suzie's sweetness, her clutch playing, and some guest solos by Fines, Tony Diteodoro, and Chris Whiteley, and I'd say, yes, this is a good enough album to be played for East Coast blues fans. And we're darn picky.