CD Review – Free Spirited: Susan Lily.

Respected and much loved Adelaide country artist, Susan Lily released her second album ‘FREE SPIRITED’ on 9th March at the 2018 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Produced and mixed by Anthony Stewart at Seacombe Heights Redbrick Music Studio. This album features some talented musicians alongside Susan. Tracey Stewart and Steven Sherrah provide backing vocals, with Anthony Stewart supplying the Electric, Acoustic and Bass guitar work; Trent Williamson on harmonica; Bradley Davidson – Drums; Hamish Davidson – Violin and Banjo; Benjy Pocock – Lead Guitar; Dave Moore – Pedal steel; Richard Coates Keys, Piano and Hammond Organ and Rod Motby on Slide and Lead Guitar.

With such a plethora of great talent on this album, I just knew it was going to be one I would enjoy, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The musicianship on ‘FREE SPIRITED’ is first rate and with the expert engineering of Anthony Stewart it makes for a very enjoyable listen.

Susan Lily is the type of artist who lays her soul bare in her songs. That honesty and openness is an endearing trait in any genre of music, but is becoming rather rare in today’s country music climate. As todays mainstream country becomes more “poppy”. It’s heart-warming to hear albums such as ‘FREE SPIRITED’, which display a simpler style of delivery. One that takes us back to an era when the focus of country was on the land, the people and the places instead of just a catchy hook.

The first track ‘Musical Journey’ is a tale of Lily’s early introduction to music. Reaching number 13 on the Australian playlist top 40, it is currently enjoying the coveted Number 1 spot on the UK, internet radio ‘SPECTRUM RADIO PETTS WOOD’.

Dealing with the ever popular, country music song theme of lost love, ‘Youre gone’ displays some beautiful pedal steel guitar work by Dave Moore. While Susan’s jaunty lyrics proves that not every break up leaves the jilted one unhappy. ‘I Just Wanna be happy’ is a look at what it takes to achieve that sometimes elusive state of mind, while ‘Whiskey Neat’ is a more melancholic tale of feelings following lost love.

The up-tempo ‘Had a dream’ features the expert harmonica playing of Trent Williamson and banjo picking of Hamish Davidson. ‘When Rail Was king’ looks fondly back to an earlier time when rail was the major transport method through most country towns. And ‘City Blues’ Speak to the – fish out of water – feeling, that many country people experience when they are forced to live, or work, in a city environment. This song has an important message to convey in an age where depression is a major problem.

Susan lily says of her late Grandfather He taught me to observe and take in the world, not just let it pass by.  I have been a student of nature and our world since a young child.  It’s given me a perspective that I feel is quite unique.”

The songs on ‘FREE SPIRITED’ are testament to that perspective. The single ‘Tough as Geranium’ was composed as part of the Semaphore songs project of the Semaphore Music Fair (SMF) back in 2015 and is due to be released on 18th June. It speaks about the virtues of displaying toughness in a harsh environment.

Free Spirited Girl’ and ‘Big Girl Pants’ are very different in tempo but convey similar emotions. Single mindedness, strength and self-belief. Finishing on a happy note, the album concludes with ‘Feeling Love

Susan Lily has the ability to write songs that can lift the spirit, convey deep emotional sadness and take the listener along with her on this journey. Lilys vocal ability and the expert musicianship of the performers on this album are first rate.

This album has something for every country fan. Ballads, a little bit of honky tonk, some country rock, some good ole banjo pickin country, tales of love lost, feelings of sadness, feelings of happiness and tales of whisky drinkin.

The album stands up well against the competition partly because of its sheer honesty and simplicity. It doesn’t try to be something that it isn’t. It doesn’t try to lure with poppy sounding lyrics or over produced sound. ‘FREE SPIRITED’ is a pure country album, about feelings, people and places, and after all, isn’t that what every good country album should be about.

I’m sure Susan lily’s late Grandfather would be proud to know that his life lessons were put to good use.

Author: Pete Wibberley

Internationally published photographer, editor of Adelaide Music Mag and freelance contributor to MNPR Magazine and The Rocker Rag.

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