Title - 'I Can Still Hear You'
Artist - Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche
For those not in the know, this past spring, Suzzy Roche and her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche headed down to Nashville to make their third album together.
Suzzy had written a batch of songs, informed both by personal loss — her sister, Maggie, and her mother died in 2017 — and her sense of the societal havoc stemming from the 2016 election.
Suzzy wrote these close-to-the-heart (and bone) songs with Lucy always in mind to sing them.
The two were just a week or so into their recording sessions with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin (who had produced Lucy’s last two solo albums) when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Suzzy and Lucy had to return quickly to their homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively, for the quarantine lockdown.
It was a scary, bleak time but they didn’t abandon the album, even though Suzzy admits she felt like giving up many times — “Like, why bother, the world is coming to an end.”
However, she credits Lucy, Jordan, Helen Vaskevitch (assistant engineer), Stewart Lerman (who wound up mixing the record) and Dick Connette (StorySound Records) with keeping the project going. “Although this wasn’t the plan we originally made, and although it was trying at times,” Lucy shares, “we made it work and I actually think this is my favorite of our duo recordings.”
Thus, I Can Still Hear You (out October 30th, 2020 via Storysound Records), conceived out of personal loss and turmoil, arrives at a time of global loss and turmoil.
The eleven thought-provoking tracks - which includes eight soul-searching, thought-provoking originals and three perfectly chosen covers, along with guest appearances by Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls - explore themes of good and evil, youth and mortality, the absurd and the serious, the real and the imagined, and the connection between what is present and what is gone.
Each of their albums together have documented a specific time and this one, according to Suzzy, “... probably is the darkest, but at the same time, it’s the most fanciful too. This time, there seemed an extra urgency about it.”
1. 'I Can Still Hear You'
3. 'Talkin' Like You (Two Tall Mountains)'
4. 'I Think I Am A Soul'
5. 'Swan (Duck) Song'
6. 'Factory Girl'
7. 'Get the Better'
9. 'Joseph D.'
11. 'Bein' Green'
Opening with the melodious lead single, which also serves as the titular tune, it is Lucy’s only solo composition here, and was written after returning from Nashville, at a time when New York was transformed from the City That Never Sleeps to a relative ghost town.
That's backed by a track that asks the question of Why is a human heart so mean? within 'Ruins,' a simply breathtaking cover of Connie Converse’s 'Talkin' Like You (Two Tall Mountains),' and both the lo-fi harmonious ambiance of, and a fitting bed for the gossamer vocals of Lucy, 'I Think I Am A Soul' (and which features Indigo Girls’ Emily Saliers on guitar), and then the congenial 'Swan (Duck) Song' (a deceptively simple fable-like setting which tells a sobering story about waddling your way through despair to get to a better place).
Next up is a traditional ballad that appeared on The Roches’ 1980 record Nurds, with this rendition featuring Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray, 'Factory Girl,' which is followed by one of my own personal favorites, the relatable storytelling of 'Get the Better,' the perky 'Little' (an ode to the children’s book character Stuart Little; albeit one not as "cute" as you might be led to initially believe), and the tale of a cruel misogynist is brought forth within 'Joseph D.', with the album rounding out on the previously unreleased Maggie Roche song 'Jane,' closing on its best-known cover, 'Bein’ Green,' of Sesame Street fame.
In closing, listening to the songs, one after another, their heartfelt lyrics and lushly orchestrated melodies all magnificently coming to the fore, I Can Still Hear You definitely does stand as a special project for both Lucy and Suzzy. “In a time when so many people are suffering,” Suzzy confides, “you hope that you can put something out into the world that will comfort, not in any saccharine way, but in the truest way you know how to.”
Lucy adds, “I think the impact of this time on the music and on us remains unseen in some way. It’s still unfolding, but it feels like a mysteriously timed project and I really am glad to get it out into the world.”
You can order I Can Still Hear You now at www.suzzyandlucy.com.
Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche - 'I Can Still Hear You' Video