Linda Sussman: PORTRAIT BY VALSAM
[Translated from Dutch to English; posted on RootsTime.be March 7, 2022]
Linda Sussman is an American singer-songwriter from New York who released her third solo album “These Walls” last year, the follow-up to the 2019 album “Pass It On Down” and her debut album “Every Road” from 2018. Her music is situated in the genres of folk, alt.folk and blues and the sung subjects in her songs range from universal themes such as love, heartache and happiness to denouncing social inequalities such as racism, poverty, gender equality and women's rights. During her many live performances she also regularly covers all kinds of blues songs from the old box, songs that have inspired her when composing her own songs. After Linda Sussman contacted us via email, we promised her that we would take a closer look at all her albums if she would send them to us and she did so enthusiastically about the idea.
EVERY ROAD - 2018
So let's start at the beginning and that is her 2018 album “Every Road”, which was released twelve years after her previous life as a folk artist. It contains eleven of her own alt.folk compositions that she produced in the New York studio together with guitarist Mike Nugent. He also played bass and electric guitars on the songs, alongside percussionist Richie Guerrero on drums and Cindy Quart on keyboards. On the album's closing acoustic track “Lullaby”, Linda plays on guitar and Gabrielle Schavran joins in instrumentally on cello.
The first song on “Every Road” is immediately a very beautiful love song “I Sing For Love” with Mike Nugent on slide guitar. In the following "Not In My Name" it immediately becomes much more serious with the immigration of underprivileged people from South American countries, which is difficult to accept in American politics. Also in “Tell Me Over Sunrise” she denounces social injustice with this time a story about the still contested marriage between two people of the same sex. 'Black Lives Matter' inspired Linda Sussman to write the song "The Change" which once again puts the racial problem in the spotlight.
The theme of the songs then becomes lighter in the melodic folk songs “Creators”, “Movin' Onward” and the cheerful songs “A Little Bit Of Heaven” and “Closer To Her Truth” (see acoustic live version on video 1) with each time beautiful percussion work by Richie Guerrero. In the ballads “Quiet Truth” and title track “Every Road”, Linda Sussman encourages the listeners to be hopeful and warm.
PASS IT ON DOWN - 2019
Linda Sussman's second album "Pass It On Down" is a logical sequel to "Every Road". The ten new self-composed songs on this album were also recorded in the same New York studio, with Mike Nugent once again present as guitarist, bassist and producer, as was Richie Guerrero on drums and percussion. New instrumentalist names on this record include bassist Cosmo Mallardi, pianist Mark Mancini, violinist Lisa Gutkin and Cindy Quart who plays organ and piano on two of the songs.
What's new on this second record is the fact that this time she's put three blues songs on the track list with the songs "Truckloads Of Blues", "Cryin'" and "Chasin' That Train". The song “Let's Just Boogie” shows some characteristics of bluegrass music and invites you to enjoy every moment in joy and for “Layer Me Up” Linda has written a gently rocking melody under the song. Beautiful things are placed in the sunlight in three songs: an ode to the life of a dancer in “The Dancer”, an ode to happy moments such as the holiday period in “The Last Mix” (see second video) and a tribute to the young mothers who gave birth to a new person in “Get Ready, Mama”. The album closes with the country blues song “Proud Woman” which is dedicated to all the people who work in the fields and thus ensure that food comes to our tables.
THESE WALLS - 2021
This brings us to Linda Sussman's most recent release via the third album “These Walls” released last year and recorded during the full Covid-19 pandemic period during 2020. That is, the instrumental contributions were recorded by all musicians in their home studios and forwarded to producer Mike Nugent and mixing engineer Kevin Kelly who bundled all the pieces of music into one whole that would make up the eleven songs on this album.
Linda Sussman once again composed all the lyrics and music for these songs herself. The sound for this record was a mix of blues, alt.folk and folk music. In the album-opening title track “These Walls” she wonders how the coming generations will look back on these times of crisis. In addition to the corona pandemic, there are also the growing protests in the context of 'Black Lives Matter', the still major immigration problem in the USA and on top of that, Donald Trump's corrupt battle for the American presidency in 2020 was added.
All these things made sure that Linda Sussman, in contrast to her second record, now again wanted to address the social themes in a few songs on "These Walls". She does this in the songs “Eye Of The Storm” (see 3rd audio video) about the many volunteers who contribute to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, in “Shadows By My Side”, in English and Spanish sung song “Sounds” about the physical and moral suffering of the portless immigrants on the borders of their promised land America and in the song “Join Hands”, an engaged anti-racism song that was released as a single from this record and that you can listen to on the fourth video.
But there was also space available on this record for some songs about love such as “Catch Me If I Fall”, “Tomorrow Blues”, the acoustic blues song “My Baby”, folk rock song “Don't Give Up” and “ Mountain Of Fire” in which blues, folk and rock are cleverly mixed into one song. It still remains interesting for us to see how musicians continue to try to kick the public's conscience with their socially critical songs, while also not forgetting to point out the fact that love for each other and for fellow man many of these problems can help solve.