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Susie Arioli: Spring

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As its title suggests, Susie Arioli’s eighth studio release is all about fresh starts. Appropriately, it is the Montreal-based singer-songwriter’s first album-length outing without guitarist and musical alter ego Jordan Officer. Subbing on guitar is one of Canada’s best, Reg Schwager, part of a solid nonet led by pianist and vibraphonist Don Thompson, who also wrote all 12 arrangements.

Thompson and company set an easy, laidback mood, its coolly chic suggestion of a 1950s boîte ideal for the retro-leaning chanteuse. Cleverly, the sophisticated mellow ambience stands in stark contrast to the lyrical content. Yes, the subject is new beginnings, but contemplated from the nadir of romantic hardship, as Arioli navigates such done-me-wrong gems as “After You’ve Gone,” “Mean to Me,” “Trav’lin’ Light,” “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights,” “I’m the Caring Kind” and the slithery “Evenin’.”

Arioli continues the theme with four new compositions. Her soft-swinging “Loverboy” bids sweet adieu to a paramour with shrugged acceptance of the more fulfilling partner he’s found. The countrified “Can’t Say No” examines the morning-after regrets of trying to fill an emotional void with too much Tanqueray. “Someone Else,” a wistful take on unfulfilled desires, recalls the gentle sort of self-recrimination that the Carpenters were so skilled at. Even the title track defies hope, with Arioli eschewing the season’s charms because the guy of her dreams isn’t, as she plainly, delightfully puts it, “nuts about me.”

Originally Published