Haptic, Susanna | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Haptic, Susanna Free Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Mon., Dec. 8, 10 p.m. 2008

Though one of Susanna Wallumrod’s favorite strategies is to turn hard-rock classics, from AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” to Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak,” into quiet, brooding, lyrical ballads, she’s no novelty act. This Norwegian vocalist has such a singular aesthetic that her renditions of familiar pop songs—on her brand-new Flower of Evil (Rune Grammofon) they include Lou Reed’s “Vicious,” Prince’s “Dance On,” and Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”—have more in common with her own material than they do with the original versions. There isn’t a whisper of irony in her stark, gorgeous covers, and she turns everything she sings into a deeply personal meditation on melancholy and joy, cutting right to the heart of a song with the pure tone and melodic clarity of an old-school British folkie. Wallumrod has made two albums with the Magical Orchestra (aka keyboardist Morten Qvenild of the jazz trio In the Country) and two more, including the new one, as just Susanna; on Flower of Evil she’s backed by her own piano, sparse drumming by In the Country’s Paal Hausken, and atmospheric guitar from Helge Sten, aka Supersilent electronicist Deathprod. Bonnie “Prince” Billy also joins her for two heartbreaking duets. For her Chicago debut she’ll be backed by Sten, who’ll play a set of his own beforehand. Haptic opens. —Peter Margasak

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