Lion in the Living Room

Susan's Room

Zanna Discs
P.O. Box 691504
Los Angeles, CA 90069
1-800-SUSAN IS

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Michele Scherneck

"It's a girl thing...Got to learn to love those curves." Susan's Room glides you through the curves with their cool, California sound. A blend of acoustic and electric guitar and a brassy percussion beat back the powerful and sensual alto voice of Susan Streitwieser. All of the songs on LION IN THE LIVING ROOM were written by Streitwieser, who has given them an unmistakable feminine edge. Her discerning, plain-spoken lyrics tell stories of imperfect people and imperfect relationships. They are, at once, neurotically cynical, and unassumingly humorous.

The title track, "Lion in the Living Room", is a portrait of a family slowly torn apart by alcoholism. The fabric that binds them is shredded and destroyed by a vicious lion who is impossible to befriend. They bury themselves in their daily activities, silently hoping that the lion will leave. In "Greatest Song," a 7 year old sits alone on the cracked vinyl seat of her mother's car with a transistor radio gripped to one ear. As her mother is "speaking of longing to her psychiatrist," the child is "lost to the radio" and soars to the sound of the "greatest song."

"Catch" is a keyboard tribute to a cerebral love affair whose psychic passion fails to fill the void left by physical distance. They're the perfect match: "He's the one with a mouth full of long, fancy words/ That for once he did not have to explain/ For once she didn't have to hide her brains." He writes her beautiful letters. They talk on the phone for hours. "But, there's a distance... There's always a catch." In stark contrast, Susan sings of restlessness borne of a love that's too sweet in "Don't Let Me Go,". Frightened by its unfamiliar goodness, she defiantly tries to dim the light of a "love that shines too bright."

Susan's passionate vocals in "Kill You Off" deceive you into thinking she's determined to soften the manner of some critical lover. Instead, she sings of self-criticism, of the nagging, little voice that tells you that you're less than who you ought to be. "Kill You Off" is a promise to silence that voice through tough love.

There are all kinds of wonderful twists and turns in LION IN THE LIVING ROOM by Susan's Room. The keen, unpretentious lyrics are matched with an equally earthy style of acoustic rock. There are no hard straight lines, just enticing, sensuous curves.

Susan's Room features Susan Streitwieser on vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards, and Tom Manche on acoustic and electric guitar and supporting vocals. They are joined by Ritt Hen on bass and Albe Bonacci on drums. LION IN THE LIVING ROOM was engineered and mixed by Tom Manche.

[Edited by Paula Gregorowicz]

Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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