Susan Clynes is a Belgian singer, pianist and songwriter who has compiled a very creative collection of original music on her Moon June Records debut release Life Is....
Clynes studied classical and jazz piano while in high school after which she chose to follow her heart: shunning a more traditional course of university studies and career path in order to study music composition, and earning a Master's Degree at the Ghent Conservatory. In the early stages of this pursuit, Clynes released Sugar For A Dream (2005), a piano trio effort, the momentum of this album ignited Clynes dreams of becoming a famous songwriter (in the commercial / alternative vein). While Clynes is an accomplished performer, songwriting remains her passion. Clynes expands, "I want to make music that bridges the different worlds of songwriting and instrumentals of compositions and improvisation. I want to talk to the heart but not forget there’s also the mind."
The CD is comprised of three ensembles as the music was recorded at three separate live performances. Clynes sings and performs on piano and on four tracks; she is joined by cellist Simon Lenski on five tracks and Nico Chkifi on drums and Pierre Mottet on bass for two selections. Clynes is clearly a risk-taker, the music is recorded live with no overdubs and the music has that special “vibe” that can only be achieved by tacking such chances.
“Life Is” features Clynes clear vocals singing over a medium waltz feel challenging the listener to think about life and growing. “A Good Man” finds Lenski and Clynes alternating between a funky reggae feel and a driving straight eighth punkish feel. Clynes digs in to the rhythm and embellished the melody with slides and falls as she describes the qualities of the good man. “Childhood Dreams” is built on a quick ostinato piano figure that is augmented by Mottet’s big bass sounds and Chkif’s tasteful drum work. Clynes song forms are always fresh and full of surprises and this selection develops the central theme through many dream states, all while keeping the storyline clear and the music flowing. “Les Larmes” has a great phrygian color and has Clynes singing through a harmonizer for a “choir” effect that builds nicely with Lenski’s warm arco work driving the rhythm. Lenski also uses various “effects” on “Pigeon’s Intrusion” to color his cello in a way that is in character with the music and keeps the small duet sounding richer than just playing acoustic.
Life Is... has something for everyone and its creative sounds covers much ground between pop and jazz, but always stays creative. Clynes’ music is positive, upbeat and intelligent and each ensemble setting brings her works to life in its own unique way.
SUSAN CLYNES: vocals, piano (Track 1, 5, 9, 10); SIMON LENSKI: cello (Tracks 2, 4, 7, 8 & 11); PIERRE MOTTET: bass (Tracks 3 & 6); NICO CHKIFI: drums (Tracks 3 & 6).
Life Is; A Good Man; Childhood Dreams; Les Larmes; Tuesday Rain; Ileana’s Song; When You’re Dead; Pigeon’s Intrusion; Le Voyage; Linear Blindness; Butterflies.
H. Allen Williams
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