I once knew a guy at University who was quite militant in his views on music. According to Chris an EP should be 4 tracks long. Not 3 tracks – “that’s just a single with a double b-side” – or 5 tracks – “that’s one side of an album” (albums should all be 10 tracks long, by the way) – but 4 perfectly-proportioned tracks. I’m sure if we were still in touch (thankfully, we’re not) he’d agree with me when I say that Journeys, the new EP from Suzanne Jones, contains 4 perfectly-proportioned tracks, each song different from the next, and each a treat to listen to.
Produced by Peggy Brianchild at Kensington’s Lost At Sea studios, Journeys contains songs that reflect on journeys through life – songs that look back at the past, consider the present, and look to the future. The EP starts with Treason & Reason, which actually shocked me with the use of an f-bomb in the second line. After all, this is folk-tinged pop, not gangsta rap! But having listened to the EP over and again I now can’t imagine the song without it, it fits so well and is spot-on appropriate. “I often wonder how did it all start, you played with my head then you f***ed with my heart. I said it’s always the same.” The song has a swinging 3/4 rhythm, punctuated with soft hand claps, and a sublime bass line from Joolz Stone.
Listening a little closer I couldn’t help but compare Suzanne Jones favourably with the likes of Kirsty McColl and Suzanne Vega, with a great voice and endearingly, catchy songs.
The irony of listening to the track On A Journey whilst stuck in traffic trying to get across the Runcorn Bridge wasn’t lost on me. “I’m on a journey, I don’t know where I’m going now, but I’ll let you know when I’m there.” Of course, Sue isn’t sing about the daily commute to work, but about the journey through life, and the compromises we choose to make along the way.
Suzanne was lead singer in Liverpool band The Frocks before they broke up. She then spent 8 years hiding and writing in her attic before going it alone as a solo artist. Knowing this, it’s not difficult to imagine that these years of writing and not performing had an effect on the songs that Sue writes and performs today. Now I Know is track 3, and opens with “Hello you, how you treating me today? I’ve had my fill of drudging through those heavy years.” Remind me to ask if those heavy years represent her self-imposed exile in the attic. I love the overdubbed and backing vocals that Suzanne provided herself on this and the other tracks.
At six minutes and 20 seconds long the final track is the epic Future’s Lane, and has Vinny T Spen’s influence all over it. Sue and Vinny bumped into each other a couple of years ago, and ended up developing a fruitful musical collaboration. Vinny provides additional guitars, plus strings and keyboard arrangements on the EP, and they’re used to great effect on Future’s Lane. Set in a minor key, the song isn’t just epic in length but also in instrumentation and tone, with the brooding and ominous timpani drums on the chorus an inspired addition.
Journeys is a great introduction to Suzanne’s music, and I hope it’s not too long before an album comes along. Four tracks on an EP are fine, but this does leave one longing for more. Or is that the point of an EP?
The EP is available to purchase from Probe Records in the Bluecoat on School Lane and News From Nowhere on Bold Street in Liverpool. It’s also available to buy online from the Reverbnation widget on Suzanne’s MySpace page myspace.com/suzannejones18
Suzanne will be playing the Liner Hotel on 7th November for the Open Mic UK Regional Final – full details here.
Graham Holland is the owner and editor of the Liverpool Acoustic website, and runs Liverpool Acoustic’s award-winning live music events with local musician Stuart Todd. In real life he’s a Web Development Officer, has been producing podcasts on a regular basis since July 2006, and runs a number of websites for other organisations. He lives in Wavertree with his husband and their cat Xiao Hei.