The Sound Cafe
Acclaimed Canadian Roots & Blues Singer-Songwriter Suzie Vinnick Set To Release 'Fall Back Home'
By Kerry Doole.
Fall Back Home marks the triumphant return of acclaimed Canadian roots music singer/songwriter Suzie Vinnick. Fittingly set for release on September 23rd, her seventh solo album is a compelling 11-song collection of solo compositions, co-writes, and carefully curated outside material.
As has become a Vinnick signature, Fall Back Home defies easy stylistic categorization. She is equally at ease in the blues, folk, and roots worlds, and elements of gospel and rockabilly are also present here.
The choice of album title (a lyric from “Talk To Me,” a song she co-wrote with Matt Andersen for the record) alludes to this eclectic approach. “I do cross over genres and I love all sorts of music so I consider that my home. There’s also a double meaning to the title, in that it references coming back home to a comfortable and safe place through the pandemic,” Suzie explains.
She adds that “I am an artist who loves a lot of different musical styles and singing in many different styles. I think of someone like Bonnie Raitt who dips her toes in a lot of places but still has a cohesiveness to her work and what she presents. I aspire to that.”
That goal is beautifully realized here. Vinnick’s warm, rich and emotionally eloquent voice and songwriting is a consistent thread on Fall Back Home, as is the quality of Danny Greenspoon’s production and the instrumental and vocal contributions of a genuine A-list of Canadian roots musicians and vocalists.
Suzie also points to a unifying goal in the selection of this new material. “I wanted an album of songs to make people feel good and a little hopeful. These last few years have been really challenging. People are still getting sick, and there’s a war in Ukraine, a nation that is my family’s heritage.
“That had been weighing on me quite heavily, which is even more reason to try to feel hopeful and positive. There is enough darkness going on out there so I feel this is a nice collection of songs that will lift you up.”
The album’s opening track is, in fact, entitled “Lift You Up,” and it sets the tone perfectly. A co-write by Vinnick and Ontario songwriter Karen Morand, it’s a soulful, gospel-tinged anthem featuring stellar guitar work from Colin Linden and backing vocals by Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar.
“Salt and Pepper” is a spirited bluesy romp with an affirmation that “I love you in the sun and the rain,” while “The Pie That My Baby Makes” is a sparse (vocals and upright bass only) slow blues tune full of spicy double entendres and with a vocal performance that reminds us of Suzie’s prowess as a compelling blues chanteuse.
Chilliwack classic “Raino” is also turned into a blues tune here, fuelled by the fluent guitar of BC guitar aces Bill Henderson (yes, the Chilliwack frontman!) and Paul Pigat.
On the folkier side is “Talk To Me,” featuring big-voiced East Coast roots star Matt Andersen trading lines and dueting with Suzie on a gentle and warm ballad. “City & Skies,” a Vinnick and Carrie Catharine co-write, is another sweet-toned ballad, one paying homage to Suzie’s Saskatchewan roots that features guitar wizards Kevin Breit and Steve Dawson. “Big Train From Memphis” is a cover of a John Fogerty tune given a groove with the help of Pigat’s electric and Dawson’s pedal steel guitar work.
Adding a slightly mournful tone to the emotional arc of the album is “It Just Doesn’t Feel Like Spring,” a solo composition with deep personal resonance. “That song began as a journal entry I wrote on a hike, just after my father died in February 2000. Spring just felt void of feeling that year. Fast forward to 2009, and I brought the song with me to Nashville, and the music just came quickly to me there.”
Closing out Fall Back Home in epic fashion is “Hurt By Luck,” a Kevin Breit composition that struck a chord with Suzie. “The lady in the song brought me back to Louisiana,” she explains. “After Hurricane Katrina, my partner James and I went to New Orleans to help with some rebuilding. We visited a plantation that had been run by a woman who was rather hardened by the experience, and I felt the song could be her story.
I live in an old 1880s church in Niagara, and I sang the vocals here, late at night, with dimmed lights, thinking of her. I acted in a movie in my own mind.”
A core band assembled at noted Toronto studio Canterbury Music Company to lay down the bed tracks for most of the material on Fall Back Home, with remote recording from various studios around the continent employed for further instrumentation.
The elite group of renowned Canadian roots musicians recruited include guitar aces Breit, Linden, Dawson, Henderson, and Pigat, harmonica players Roly Platt and Carlos del Junco, drummers Davide Di Renzo and Gary Craig, bassists Russ Boswell and Alec Fraser, organists Jesse O’Brien and Mark Lalama, and guest vocalists Andersen, Gwen Swick, Michael Biggar and Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar.
The presence of such a formidable cast list testifies both to the peer respect and the friendships Vinnick has cultivated within the roots music community. “I consider everyone on the album friends,” she explains. “I’ve worked with them before and hired many of them in my band. I feel pretty blessed to have such a beautiful collection of musicians on Fall Back Home.”
During the pandemic-induced lockdown, Suzie honed her chops and entertained her fans with a weekly live-streamed concert from her home, hosted on the StreetJelly site. “I likely learned 150 songs for those shows,” she explains. One of them was Chilliwack’s ‘Raino,’ suggested by a friend for the show.
Over the course of a solo recording career now spanning nearly 30 years, Suzie Vinnick has earned two Juno nominations, 10 Maple Blues Awards (in the categories of Female Vocalist, Songwriter, Acoustic Act, and Bassist), and a Canadian Folk Music Award. She has also won two prestigious International Songwriting Awards, in the blues category.
Suzie has become a popular fixture on the blues and folk festival and club circuit, and her prodigious bass and guitar skills have shone in performance.
The phrase ‘works well with others’ also belongs on the Vinnick resume, via membership in folk /roots combos The Marigolds (this brought her another Juno nomination), Vinnick Sheppard Harte, and Betty and The Bobs, as well as work as a duo with Rick Fines, and with Tony D and His Cool Band.Her voice has been heard in popular commercials for Tim Horton’s, Shoppers Drug Mart, and more and onscreen on TV and film soundtracks.
A totally engaging performer, Vinnick is now eagerly anticipating a return to the road. “I have over 50 shows booked over 5 months in 2023, sharing the bill with Lloyd Spiegel from Australia, with Charlie A’Court from the East Coast joining us for the second half.”
After launching the new album with a concert at Toronto venue 3030 on Sept. 23, Suzie Vinnick will enjoy her fall, back home. We wholeheartedly recommend you do the same by checking out her beautiful record.
Suzie Vinnick performs The Golden Rule From the album Shake The Love Around