Sue Decker – Outskirts of Love
CD: 12 Songs, 46 Minutes
Styles: Mellow Blues, Americana, Roots, Debut Studio Album, All Original Songs
Natalie Merchant. Bonnie Raitt. Samantha Fish. Mavens and icons all, with Fish being one of the most prominent women in the blues nowadays. Canada’s Sue Decker aims to join their ranks with the advent of her debut studio album, Outskirts of Love. Its overall style is meandering and melancholy, beginning with the eerie “Lay Me Down in the Indigo” and closing with “Travellin’ Light,” definitely not to be mistaken for a cover of the J.J. Cale hit. The twelve original songs here are best experienced as one would a white-water rafting trip for beginners: down a gentle river, the journey smooth and soothing rather than riddled with boisterous bumps and rocky guitar riffs. Decker herself is an acoustic enthusiast, which is why her music not only belongs to the blues genre but to Americana and roots as well. Note to purists: You won’t find anything that sounds like the masters you venerate, but Sue’s paving her own eclectic path. What she lacks in vocal range, she makes up for in sincerity and keen songwriting, as featured on “Silver Anniversary” and the first track. With time, she’ll become as renowned as her idols.
“The ideal I’m always chasing as a songwriter is to use ordinary language to fuse everyday moments with the unspeakable and the extraordinary,” says Sue on her website. On stage, she creates a sense of community with her playful connection to the audience, and there’s also plenty of tasty lap-style slide guitar, whether she is playing solo or with a band. She also shares her undeniable affinity for vintage blues as the host of Back Porch Blues, a monthly acoustic blues session with a talented collective of fellow musicians in Victoria, Canada.
Performing along with Sue (vocals, slide guitars, guitar for track five) are producer Wynn Gogol on multiple instruments, Damian Graham on drums, and guitarists Bill Johnson, Kelly Fawcett, Adam Dobres, and Paul Black. Gavin Hodgins provides background vocals on three songs.
One stellar track that should be in an upcoming horror film is “Lay Me Down in the Indigo.” Picture the color for a moment. It’s suggestive of night, secrets, the inner mind and the depths of the grave. “Lay me down in the indigo, stay my body, save my soul.” Such a plea might have been uttered by a field hand in the Deep South in the days of slavery, yearning to “leave the devil I know,” although bondage is never escaped so readily. So evocative is this tune that one might look over one’s shoulder whilst listening, just in case… The guitar notes in the intro and outro are like the dying breaths of a fugitive, coming in long, slow rasps that fade into silent oblivion.
Outskirts of Love is an atmospheric, commendable debut from Canada’s Sue Decker!