It is always a great pleasure to listen to a new album from Montreal-based singer Susie Arioli. Her warm sound which comforts you like a satin cushion is complemented this time around by the imaginative arrangements of pianist and vibraphonist Don Thompson. Also on board: a five-piece brass section and her regular rhythm group guys.
Susie also added four original compositions to the new album, like the lightly swinging opener “Loverboy” which sounds like an instant classic. Her perfect phrasing and pitch are present as well. Perfectly executed on the standard “Mean To Me”, which opens with a piano/vibe intro reminiscent of the great George Shearing. One of the nice things about Susie is that the story of the songs is clearly her focus – there is no superfluous scatting or any other kind of vocal gymnastics that nobody needs anyway.
Susie includes a 50s Bo Diddley staple: “Dearest Darling” comes over as a grooving rock’n’roll swinger with jazzy guitar courtesy of Reg Schwager and bluesy brass. And it is her persuasive flexibility and wonderful sense of humor that graces the country and western swing of her own “Can’t Say No”. Her choice of material and repertoire is once again as versatile as can be – she recorded a sassy version of the T-Bone Walker classic “Evenin'” for this session as well as a swell interpreation of the rhythm & blues hit for New Orleans-born Earl King from 1957, “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights”.
Benny Carter recorded his “I’m The Caring Kind” with words by Irving Gordon back in 1946 with his All Star Orchestra and singer Maxine Sullivan and about half a century later on his “Songbook, Vol.2” album which had Wesla Whitfield on vocals. Here, Susie stays true to the elegant and straightforward composition – no gimmicks, no fooling around. Irving Gordon was also responsibe (among others) for “Me, Myself And I”, done here as a serious swing tune with a nice little trumpet solo by Kevin Turcotte.
The lively and feel-good, witty and humorous context is expertly wrapped by producer John Snyder (Etta James, John Pizzarelli, Nnenna Freelon, etc). Susie’s title track of the album (“I’m not nuts about springtime…”) is just hilarious. And she also goes the dodgy route on the sweet bossa nova of her own, “Someone Else”. Her ongoing drive and passion and fidelity is felt throughout until the end of the album where she does the Johnny Mercer standard “Travelin’ Light”. The only resentment I have is because of the too worn-out “After You’ve Gone”. But how wonderfully eccentric is her statement to release “Spring” in the fall…
Susie starts her 13-date Canadian tour on January 31st in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and plays Théatre Outremont in Montréal on February 11th and Palais Montcalm in Quebec on February 19th.