who come to my shows so often tell me they appreciate the range
- the range of styles, genres, and colors in my music," says Susan
Werner in talking about her latest release, New Non-Fiction. "This
album captures that variety of colors and that live energy better
than anything else I've ever done in the studio."
On her fifth album, Werner vividly demonstrates both the quality
of musicianship and stylistic breadth that has marked her career
as a singer-songwriter with roots in jazz, classical, country, and
popular song. Produced by Bruce Cockburn's longtime collaborator
Colin Linden, New Non-Fiction plays like a collection of short stories
written by a diverse group of authors with different voices, perspectives,
and experiences. Yet the stories have a unifying thread woven by
Werner's powerful, classically trained voice, her keen eye for observation,
and her sophisticated musicianship.
Longtime fans and critics alike have come to expect this unique
combination of musical diversity, emotional depth and vocal excellence
from Werner both in live performance and on previous releases Midwestern
Saturday Night (1991), Live at Tin Angel (1993), Last of the Good
Straight Girls (Private Music, 1995), and most recently, the acclaimed
Time Between Trains (Bottom Line, 1999).
"Artful, funny, and blessed with a luminescent voice," the San
Francisco Bay Guardian said Werner "combines a singer-songwriter's
keen attention to detail, a cabaret chanteuse's sense of drama and
a sardonic feminist's approach to romance and relationships." "Her
songs," said the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "are finely detailed
compositions that recall the writing of Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits
for their attention to detail while dealing with subjects such as
emotional discomfort, embarrassment, and a love's inadequacy."
"I've been trying to find a way to write songs that sit right on
the 50-yard line, right in the middle between singer and audience,"
she says in explaining the creative balance between the confessional
and the general. "The point is to find a place of mutual connection,
not co-dependency. They say that's what healthy, mature relationships
are built on," Werner laughs. In the end, Werner -- who has made
a career of blending her matter-of-fact Midwestern farm girl sensibility
with urbane wit and sophistication -- pursues her own musical path
across genres and market-driven categories. As she sings on the
groove-driven Shade of Grey, Don't tell me the answers I'd rather
learn them for myself and/Don't sell me your answers Put your book
back on the shelf/With the new non-fiction/Hey, let everybody have
their say/And at the end of the day/All you really get's another
shade of grey. On New Non-Fiction, the musical and lyrical colors
Werner paints are anything but....