From the influence of Celtic folk, to the haunting echoes of the ageless voices from our Blue Ridge Mountain kin through the honky-tonk shadows of dusty West Texas taverns, Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band’s new album Not That Kind of Girl, produced by Herb Pedersen of Desert Rose and Dillards fame, have gathered stories in song that weave a timeless tapestry of the durability of the American spirit through the power of song.
This album confirms the band’s passion for the American root traditions as they forge ahead innovating their way through song craft with instrumental skill and soaring vocal distinction provided by Susie Glaze and Steve Rankin who also excels on mandolin. No small credit, however, goes to Mark Indictor whose fiddle work streaks sonic lightening through the songs, lead guitarist and primary songwriter, Rob Carlson and Fred Sanders on sturdy and dynamic stand-up bass. In the truest sense, they are a great band.
While Susie Glaze and Hilonesome have set out from their beginnings to stake out a legacy that reaches beyond genre limitations while honoring past musical traditions in a way that is timeless over nostalgic, this album succeeds in ways beyond the usual expectations often set in Americana music. That is, there is a resonate authenticity and unique dynamic to the proceedings that is a joy to experience.
The opening song, “Independence” written by lead guitarist Rob Carlson, sets the pace for the celebration and soulful blend of an Irish jig with Kentucky mountain music. The title track, “Not That Kind of Girl,” is another Carlson tune. It calls to mind where the journey of early honky-tonk music began with bluegrass instruments and a downhome character-driven vocal by Susie Glaze.
Belfast sacred singer songwriter Denise Hagan’s “Heartland, “is a stirring and beautifully realized performance of this song about hardship and grace. Covering this obscure song from Ireland is stroke of brilliance giving Tennessee native Glaze a chance to bring to the American heartland the universal theme of Hagan’s song. “The Mountain,” another original song by Rob Carlson, is a near instant classic which resonates with a driving rhythm and searing fiddle accompaniment by Mark Indictor and a passionate vocal by Susie Glaze which gives life to this lyrical story of turmoil and loss in heartland mountains.
There is humor to spare on songs like “Don’t Resist Me,” with a new twist on star-stalking and romance. The song bounces us along with a happy-go-lucky honky-tonk arrangement that is both disarming and alarming-even managing to weave “I’m in the Mood for Love,” into the arrangement. Carlson’s “This Old House,” keeps the bluegrass kinship alive with a fresh take on the bittersweet memories of an old home gone but still achingly real.
The traditional stream flows through hauntingly on a Grammy worthy vocal by Susie Glaze and a spare accompaniment by Mark Indictor on fiddle and Skip Edwards on a beautifully rendered accordion on “Dens of Yarrow.” A sweet homage is given to Linda Ronstadt on a gentle interpretation of J.D. Souther’s “Prisoner in Disguise,” featuring Chris Hillman on mandolin with Herb Pedersen on harmony vocal and resonator/lead acoustic guitar. L.A. singer-songwriter Ernest Troost’s “Last to Leave” is an eloquently rendered bluegrass torch song. “Never Give Up,” completes the collection with a dynamic song which comes as close as bluegrass will ever come to rock & roll energy. A clearly inspired gospel finish, it is a danceable song of perseverance that fulfills the sweet optimism and joy which underlies this entire album.
Not That Kind of Girl, is a vibrant and energetic an album which serves to challenge the common assumptions about how traditional music can be created with a contemporary feel. It is not so much a fusion as a transfusion of tradition with fresh new vibrant blood. With a skill, expertise and authority that is uncommon even in a genre where these qualities are expected, Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band have broken new ground in the growing legacy of Americana music. Not That Kind of Girl has a place, not only in the fabric of the best of contemporary Americana music, but in the years to come, as a classic example of music’s ability to draw from the deepest part of our common American soul to inspire and root us in our heritage.
Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band will be appearing at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California on Arpil 19 at 8:00 PM.