Pop/folk/country is a near-ubiquitous mash-up right now, but it’s only because there’s so much ground to till there. Suzie Brown‘s songs combine the catchy melodies of acoustic-pop, the deft guitar-playing of folk, and gentle country arrangements that incorporate pedal steel and minimalist drumming.
The title track (and opener) of Almost There combines these three influences for a sprightly, warm, enjoyable tune. “Sugar Blues” picks up some country attitude and pairs it with adult alternative backup singers for a neat juxtaposition. Her cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday” also gives the album a burst of energy: even though there’s a jubilant New Orleans Jazz vibe to her rendition, it remains recognizably folk/country. Brown can genre-mix with the best of them, and that gives Almost There an exciting, adventurous feel.
“Own Little Show” is a spare, romantic country ballad, the type that you could imagine being written in the ’40s, ’70s, or today. “Everywhere I Go” is a straight-up pop song that feels like a lyrical and melodic sequel to “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel. “Fallen Down” plays up the folky fingerpicking for a sonorous tune. So even though Brown mixes genres often, she can go traditional too; that diversity gives a lot of spunk to the album.
Brown’s unadorned, beautiful alto voice helps keep consistency throughout the diversity of the album. Brown feels completely at home in her voice, having found a range and a melodic style that serve her well. She clearly has worked hard on songwriting, and she sounds natural in the songs she has written. It’s a hard thing to do, but Brown has accomplished it well here.
Brown has plenty of tricks up her sleeve, which is why Almost There is so delightful. There’s plenty going on in each track and throughout the album, but the album never feels disjointed. If you’re a fan of Laura Stevenson, Laura Marling, Laura Veirs, or female singer/songwriters in general, you should check out Suzie Brown.