– Shares new track “Freight Train“
– Album ‘Go Dig My Grave’ due Feb 9th
– Featuring Giovanna Pessi, Ida Hidle & Tuva Syvertsen
After recently announcing her new album ‘Go Dig My Grave’, which is a unique project between Susanna, Swiss baroque harp player Giovanna Pessi, accordi
Speaking about the track, Susanna said “Digging for gold in LA’s vinyl stores, I came across Elizabeth Cotten’s album ‘When I’m Gone’ which is an appealing title in itself. A wonderful record, and one of the songs is “Freight Train”. I am deeply fascinated by how people think of death, as the final rest or the moving beyond to something new- do you find comfort in thinking it’s all going to end some day or do you fear it. “Freight Train” is such a master piece of a song, cut to the bone about being content with what this life has to offer, the tempo of it all and how some day it’s going to be just fine to wrap it up.”
Norwegian artist Susanna has a distinct voice in music and has been releasing music since 2004 with the duo ‘Susanna and the Magical Orchestra’, as ‘Susanna’ and under her full name, Susanna Wallumrød. She is known for her transforming of songs by AC/DC, Dolly Parton, Thin Lizzy and Leonard Cohen among others, but also for her strong originals and collaborations with artists like Jenny Hval, Ensemble neoN and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Her previous album ‘Triangle’ received notable international praise for its originality and musical ambition.
With ‘Go Dig My Grave’, her 12th album, she explores historic musical gaps by combining music from the Great American Songbook and old English traditionals with baroque instrumentation and her own, characteristic vocal interpretations. Add some Henry Purcell, some Lou Reed, and Susanna’s own composition, and the unique complexity of Susanna’s artistry is evident: ‘Go Dig My Grave’ is a profoundly personal collection of dark songs with deep roots through centuries of American and European musical heritage.
An unnerving combination of existential despair and musical beauty, ‘Go Dig My Grave’ presents a selection of songs straddling issues of lost love, abandonment – and a merciless thirst for liquor. Speaking about her new record, Susanna explains, “I am attracted to the sad songs, and how people have used music throughout the years; it feels like they use songs and singing as a way of processing and dealing with of the difficult times in their lives. There’s a lot of similarities in the dramatic ways of telling a story in the old English ballads such as ‘The Willow Song’ and ‘The Three Ravens’ and the American folk songs like ‘Go Dig My Grave’ – even if the newer folk songs has more of a straightforwardness to the tragedy.”
The combination of songs and genres is in many ways an exploration of music itself. From the resigned and slow rhythm of the longing “Rye Whiskey” to the metaphoric English ballad “The Three Ravens”, Susanna makes connections between the acute pain of American history and the poetic qualities of the more abstract European art. Ending with a version of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”, slightly more lighthearted than the rest of the album, Susanna leaves the listener with a hopeful sense of the transformational qualities of musical expression itself.
The album marks Susanna’s return to her collaboration with Swiss baroque harp player Giovanna Pessi. Pessi first appeared alongside Susanna on the album ‘Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos’, released on Rune Grammofon in 2007, and played a major role on the critically acclaimed ECM album ‘If Grief Could Wait’, a deep-dive into the sorrow-stricken music of Henry Purcell, Leonard Cohen and Susanna herself. This time the two have invited the talented young accordion player Ida Løvli Hidle and the great Norwegian fiddle player and folk singer Tuva LivsdaWer Syvertsen to form a quartet. The result is a dynamic band that easily masters subtle shifts from the simple folk feeling of songs like Elizabeth CoWen’s “Freight Train” to the icy beauty of Purcell’s “Cold Song” and the complex, centuries old lament of “The Willow Song”.
A brand-new composition by Susanna also features on the album. “Invitation to the Voyage” is written to a poem from Charles Baudelaire’s, ‘The Flowers of Evil’, banned in 19th century France for its treatment of decadence and eroticism. With this piece, Susanna continues a musical tradition of interpreting Baudelaire’s words, following the likes of Alban Berg and Henri Dutilleux. The song plays on the historic soundscape that characterises much of the album, echoing the lyric symmetry and modal harmonies of the European ballad tradition, and is sparsely orchestrated by Pessi’s soft harp and ominous coloration from the fiddle and the accordion. “Quite recently I started to read Baudelaire’s ‘Flowers of Evil’. I fell in love with the beautiful poems and got the urge to sing some of them,” says Susanna. “This one is the first of the songs I have written to this poetry, and a wonderful mysterious world has opened up to me.”
Produced by Deathprod and Susanna, ‘Go Dig My Grave’ was recorded at the world class Rainbow Studio in Oslo and is released on Susanna’s own label SusannaSonata. It is one of several extensive projects for Susanna in 2017 & 2018.
22nd-25th March 2018, Big Ears Festival, Knoxville (TN) USA (solo)
22nd-25th of March 2018, Big Ears Festival, Koxville (TN) USA (ft. Giovanna Pessi, Frode Haltli & Cheyenne Mize)
‘Go Dig My Grave’ tracklist:
1. Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotten)
2. Cold Song (John Dryden/Henry Purcell)
3. Invitation to the Voyage (Charles Baudelaire/Susanna Wallumrød)
4. Rye Whiskey (Traditional)
5. The Willow Song (Anonymous)
6. Go Dig My Grave (Traditional) (stream)
7. Lilac Wine (James Shelton)
8. Wilderness (Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner)
9. The Three Ravens (Old English folk ballad)
10. Perfect Day (Lou Reed)
‘Go Dig My Grave’ artwork:
The artwork is by Arne Bendik Sjur, who also lent his art to the ‘Meshes of Voice’ release by Jenny Hval & Susanna in 2014.
Featured Photo Credit : Anne Valeur