New Music: Listen to Suzy Callahan’s Dreamy Folk Offerings on “See Through”
On May 1, the two track mini-EP See Through suddenly became available on Suzy Callahan’s Bandcamp page. It’s the first record the D.C.-area singer-songwriter has released since 2011’s fantastic folk sundry People Change.
The album’s title was more a personal declaration than a universal observation. For this record, she used folk as a primer, a base coat over which she painted hues of electronica and indie rock. But it would be wrong to simply deem her work experimental. An experiment is something tested, its findings documented and deemed a success or a failure. Callahan knows exactly what she’s doing.
She has painstakingly presupposed the outcome of every electronic overdub, every tonal shift. Like a farrier, she bends sounds to suit her needs, casting samples and keyboards in the bit roles they were destined to play.
On the title track, “See Through,” Callahan keeps it beautifully simple. Her melodic fingerpicking and coy yet ebullient vocals recall the enigmatic folk-chanteuse Joni Mitchell. “I don’t remember what you said/certain words I forget/Don’t know if you said what you meant to say,” Callahan hazily recalls. Yet, in the chorus, she is certain that each word was spoken “tenderly,” a word she goes on to repeat with a poetic grace.
The second track, “Manic Monday,” is a cover of the The Bangles’ first hit single. Accompanying Callahan here is her former Devils Wielding Scimitars bandmate Scott Tyburski on guitar, synthesizer and, as it’s credited, “snow blower.” The only thing recognizable here are the lyrics, which Callahan delivers in an almost mechanical falsetto.
The two have stripped the song of its glittery pop brilliance, in favor of a series of intermittently synthesized blips, bleeps, and sound clips that blink on and off over a meandering electric guitar. It seems doubtful that Callahan chose to release this cover of “Manic Monday” when she did, as the song was originally written by the recently-deceased Prince. But whether these new tracks signal an end to Callahan’s musical hiatus, or are simply a veiled ode from one artist to another, it’s a pleasure to hear her voice again, after all this time.