Susannah Weaver, stage name Little Sue, has grown up. Her third record is her most nuanced and accomplished, in large part because of terrific production by Ezra Holbrook and tasteful contributions by more than a dozen of Portland's best musicians and singers.
Weaver's artistic growth has apparently not been without its struggles. The Long Goodbye is a fourteen-song cycle of heartbreak, autobiographical in nature if the local press can be believed. The recording was drawn out over a year as well; the album ended up having to be self-released after the demise of Little Sue's prior label, Cravedog.
These challenges somehow led to a deeply satisfying record. Despite the melancholy, confessional lyrics of nearly every song, The Long Goodbye avoids both cliche and pity due to the hope and strength that Weaver's voice naturally conveys, regardless of the words she is singing.
The production, heavy on strings, exudes warmth and keeps the focus where it belongs: on Weaver's honky-tonk angel voice. There's more torch than twang; most of the songs here are slow-tempo, though tuneful. But the two standouts are pop gems: the leadoff track "Country Song" and "Change Your Mind", buried at track number eleven, but sounding like a sure-fire hit if it were recorded by an established Nashville star.