Suzanne JarvieSuzanne Jarvie
Album: One Take Only(EP)
Label: Continental Record Services
Tracks: 6

I do like a good cover song, whether as an isolated album track, or a whole CD devoted to them - Phosphorescent's "To Willie" springs readily to mind - or at live gigs. Neil Young belting out The Beatles' "A Day In the Life" last time he hit town was none too shabby.

This makes Suzanne's EP, "One Take Only" - recorded in a "fun, fast and furious" day and half at Chris Brown's studio, she says - a pleaser.

Sandwiched between the first and final tracks, which are originals, lie four meaningful covers: a song from the TV series, Nashville, called Believing, where the duet is shared with her daughter, Sara, then three more by Dylan, Hazel Dickens and Taylor Swift's cover man, the unpredictable, Ryan Adams.

This is an unfussy collection of single takes that act as a mini-follow-up to the Canadian's highly-acclaimed, debut album of last year, "Spiral Road." This came out years after she put music away in a drawer to focus on becoming a criminal defence attorney and a wife and a mother of four children, and the traumas that involved.

There is a sorrowful steeliness throughout the EP with Suzanne's voice nudging the lyrics along at times, like an attentive parent. I liked her voice on Spiral Road and it doesn't disappoint here, either. Opener, You Shall Not Pass is a gently strummed acoustic affair, the warm and carefully delivered vocals carrying shades of Emmylou Harris and Gretchen Peters, even.

Believing, the song from Nashville, is mournful and focuses on coming back off the ropes with Suzanne declaring: "When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling / And those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning / You keep me believing."

Senor, plucked from Dylan's 1978 Street Legal, is full of questions without too many answers and Suzanne tackles the issues in a telling manner that befits such a powerful composition. Hills of Home was written by esteemed, bluegrass singer/songwriter from the West Virginia coalfields, the late Hazel Dickens. Here the considered, vocal approach is tinged with a sparkling, spiritual feel.

Sweet Carolina - from Ryan Adams' marvellous debut in 2000, Heartbreaker - is deftly imposing and it's good to hear a female lead on it as Mr Adams' original featured, Emmylou on duet duties. This is a mighty captivating version, leading perfectly into the second self-penned track, Shadow of the Sultan, mellow and altogether quite beautiful: "Baby, won't you take me? / Just like Beauty took the Beast" she sings with a plaintive appeal.

If this is a warm up for another full-length offering then Suzanne has dished up a teasing sampler.

Mike Ritchie

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