Release Date: September 16, 1997
What is the sound of one Roche singing?
It is beguiling, intimate, unconventional, funny, penetrating, and smart. It's a voice you've heard for twenty years, but it's entirely new.
Suzzy Roche's fans always knew that she could make it as a solo performer She's got the voice, the stage presence, the writing, and the musical chops, and now she's got the album, Holy Smokes. Since the late Seventies, when The Roches captured our ears, Suzzy has been celebrated for her work with her sisters Maggie and Terre. Their superb harmonies, quirky takes on life, and legendary live performances made them widely popular and influential. Together they released ten albums, wrote for films (and in Suzzy's case, acted in them as well), earned reams of critical raves, performed all over the world, and even appeared as themselves or rather, animated roachesóin a Tiny Toons cartoon. Now, as the trio takes a hiatus, Suzzy is stepping out on her own.
Holy Smokes is an album of unlikely subjects and unlikely approaches. Suzzy finds the significance in everyday thingsóthe depth in ballet slippers or childhood songsóand the lightness of life. The album is filled with loss, but not bitterness, and radiates resilience and strength. Musically, the songs are remarkably catchy, the kind you'll find yourself humming immediately. Suzzy combines pop, rock and folk in a way that is immediately accessible without ever being routine. She fits words and music together like a craftsperson, finding just the right piece or angle, and she catches you with lyrical surprises and unexpected melodic turns.
Holy Smokes, which is Suzzy's first outing on Red House Records, was produced by Stewart Lerman, who also produced three of the Roches albums. He and Suzzy brought together some of the best session players around, including Suzzy on guitar and keyboard, Stewart on guitar, bass, piano, and percussion, Steuart Smith, David Mansfield, Paul Ossola, Frank Vilardi, and Joe Bonadio, among others. Suzzy's sister, Maggie Roche, lends her voice to a couple of tracks, as does Jules Shear. The instrumentation is understated, with Suzzy's singing at the fore. The album highlights how she wraps her voice around a song like no one else. It's a voice that expresses every emotion and nuance in the song, with a style that is conversational and familiar, like she's right there in the room. No wonder so many singers who followed in her footsteps wanted to sound just like her.
With the release of Holy Smokes, Suzzy will take off on a major tour, prefaced by appearances this summer at the Winnipeg, Philadelphia, and Newport Folk Festivals (and an occasional club here and there). Her early shows have already started a buzz, and she's captivated the audiences lucky enough to hear her As Robert Christgau wrote in the Village Voice before a recent gig, "Finally inaugurating the solo career she obviously had in her, the youngest Roche sister is sure to be tuneful, impish and very much there on stage." It's going to be a great show.