August 15, 2007
Suzy Bogguss’ new album Sweet Danger is a remarkable dichotomy of emotion. It is calming, soothing and relaxing at the same time it’s exciting and energizing. The sweet and innocent are met head on with a sexy, sultry side of Suzy. Her lyrical eloquence and pure delivery are unmistakable as they have been in past albums but something is different. While the lyrics and delivery are undeniably Suzy, the music has a new flare. Sweet Danger is an edgy, sweet collaboration between Nashville and New York musical styles resulting in an irresistible adventure from song to song confronting the listener with feelings they may never have been able to verbalize. Sweet Danger was created in concert with Jason Miles who is known for his work with jazz and pop artists such as Luther Vandross, Sting, Roberta Flack, Vanessa Williams and Chaka Khan. Suzy entered into the world of Jazz and Pop in 2003 with her album entitled Swing produced by Ray Benson which was an impressive performance of her musical talent.
I was lucky enough to get some time to talk with Suzy about her new album and was pleased to find the artist is just as real as her music.
I asked Suzy about her “aha” moment, the moment that she knew she wanted to pursue music full time.
• Suzy had been traveling around for several years where she concentrated in metals and jewelry. She convinced herself that she was traveling to locate the perfect spot open her jewelry design boutique. After about five years she realized that she was not sure she wanted to settle down, if fact she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. So, right there in Big Sky, Montana she broke down and cried her eyes out searching for her future. As most of us do when we are upset and confused, we call a friend to help guide us. Suzy did the same. She called her friend in Nashville who got her a job singing demos for about ten dollars a song. Another friend gave her a chance to sing two nights a week in a club. Then it hit her out of the blue. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she wanted to a part of the music industry but admits she didn’t think she was all that special; therefore it remained in the back of her mind. It didn’t take long for folks in Nashville to realize that she was special.
How did it feel stepping into the studio to record a full album in a genre’ other than country?
• Suzy really had to let go and explore the music in order to get a feel for it. After beginning the first take of the first song the newness of the experience was a bit overpowering. She called her husband, Doug Crider to help her regroup and refocus in order to tackle the project without fear. She was then able to move through the project with an open mind and experience a new format of expression. With her great success in the country market and her ability to move smoothly from one genre to the next Suzy has limitless possibilities. While limitless potential can be very liberating, in some ways it can also be stifling. Suzy states that, “You hope you will continue to grow without alienating the people who have listened in the past.” Suzy continues to state that, “the connection she has had with people has stemmed more from the lyrics in the songs” and not so much the delivery. Suzy is “trying to make the most out of the gift she was given.”
Do you feel that the exploration of other musical styles help you to convey your message?
• Suzy admits that she gets a “sheepish face” about what people are going to think about her new album, Sweet Danger. But when she thinks about the songs she has written, she realizes that they are the same songs except they are treated differently. She was also trying to utilize something that she learned when she participated in the creation of a swing album. Suzy learned that she would rather “sing than yell.” Suzy doesn’t focus on vocal acrobatics but would rather concentrate on the connecting with the audience and making her fans happy with the gift that she was given.
Could you share with our readers one piece of advice about the music industry?
• Suzy’s message here is to make a connection with your audience. Suzy used to write postcards to tell people she was back in the area and try to connect with them whenever she could. Connect with the people that support you so they feel like, it’s a two way street. Suzy encourages that, “You have to find some way to feel like your giving back to your fans.”
When you are on stage, how do you know when you are connecting with your audience?
• Suzy has an undying appreciation for the smaller venues where she can get more nuances from the audience. While some artists may be great at getting a connection in larger venues, Suzy is better able to connect with her audience in smaller clubs since that is where she started out. Suzy explains a feeling of connecting with the audience as a two way street.
Do you “sit down to write a song” or “does a song sit you down to get written?”
• For Suzy it can happen either way but a lot of the time she will have a revelation at an odd moment or she will be driving and by the time she is somewhere she can write it down, she will flat out forget it. In order to alleviate that possibility she is known for calling her own voicemail and leaving the idea on the machine. Like many songwriters it is not uncommon for Suzy to wake up in the middle of the night with a song idea, only to wake up in the morning look at the lyric and think “that’s stupid.”
Tell us about the song “No Good Way To Go.” This is most certainly a very sultry side of you.
• This song is a Verlon Thompson’s song which was only easy to do because of the dynamic talent of the band. Suzy says that “it was the band that inspired the whole vibe of the song.” Originally, the song came to her as a blue grass song. They made a demo of it and stripped it down to guitar and keyboard and that is what she played for the guys in New York. The band came up with the groove and she followed.
The song “In Heaven” is a very personal song isn’t it?
• This is a very difficult song to sing because she is singing it from the standpoint of the person who is left. Written by her husband, Doug Crider, what the song doesn’t say is that the song is from view point of her best friend who passed away after a battle with cancer and how the surviving spouse can move forward. This song has touched so many people who have had similar situations but Suzy still gets a little tense every time she sings it.
Tell us about the song “Chain Lover.”
• She started writing this one in a hotel with a phrase going around in her head. Suzy approached Billy Kers with the idea and threw it out there not knowing how he would react. The remainder of the song came out in a blur and it was recorded four hours later.
• Greg Bonello came over to write with her and they just started talking. Suzy played him a couple of cuts from the new album and the song started to develop after that. When he started the tune, they had a groove going. The basis of the song is based on the question, “Is it worth the risk of spending the night with this person or is it deeper something that is really there.”
Tell me about the inspiration for the song “It’s not gonna happen today.”
• Suzy says that it is such a true song for her. She had the days where she could not face anybody and really could not deal with anybody. The story turning in a love song, it’s that revelation moment. I’m lying to myself, I know it but I can’t solve it.
Nashville, Tenn.—Multi might be the best adjective to describe talented singer/songwriter Suzy Bogguss. Multi-award-wining, multi-platinum, and as her new CD Sweet Danger so expertly proves, she’s multi-faceted. She co-produced the album with famed jazz/pop keyboardist and producer Jason Miles, who’s worked with Miles Davis, Luther Vandross and Sting. The two brought together Nashville and New York musicians, culling the best of both worlds to create an instantly engaging, groove-oriented record infused with jazz rhythms and Bogguss’ signature vocals. This highly anticipated album will be released September 4th on Loyal Dutchess Records.
She says recording the album was one of the most challenging and freeing experiences of her career. “I love the sweetness of making a snap decision and the danger of living with the consequences. When I went to New York the first time and we started to record I thought, ‘Oh my God, what is this music?’ I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know how to control it. But then I just let go, enjoyed the process and followed the music wherever it needed to go. I came home with these tracks that were new and different and that was so exciting. I couldn’t wait to get started writing the rest of the album.”
Fans will soon be able to share her enthusiasm. Sweet Danger, like all of her previous work, is filled with songs full of emotional integrity. She covers Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” and creates a totally new vibe by stripping the song down to its emotional core and rebuilding it with a tight acoustic ensemble. “No Good Way To Go” is a tongue-in-cheek lesson in “the break up” delivered in a bluesy, whispered rap. She turns to husband/songwriter Doug Crider for “In Heaven,” the emotional centerpiece of the album written about some of the couple’s best friends.
Throughout her career Bogguss has shown a knack for blending songs of substance and depth with mass-market appeal. Songs like “Aces,” “Drive South,” “Someday Soon,” “Outbound Plane” and “Letting Go” took her to the top of the country music charts. Along the way she won raves from critics and her peers. She won the Country Music Association’s “Horizon Award” in 1992 and “Album of the Year” Award in 1994.
Sweet Danger is a natural evolution from the universally praised album, Swing, which she recorded in 2003 with Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel, and Simpatico, her earlier much loved collaboration with Chet Atkins. Still, as the title of the new album implies, she had to risk following her muse into uncharted musical territory in order to find these newest treasures.
With great risk comes great reward, and discerning music lovers are the real winners here. Suzy Bogguss dares to take the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.
To find out more about Suzy, please visit her official website at: www.suzybogguss.com