FAME Review: Suzanne Jarvie - Spiral Road
Suzanne Jarvie - Spiral Road

Spiral Road

Suzanne Jarvie

Available from Suzanne Jarvie's Bandcamp page.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I don't know about you, but I love wide open lonely vistas. Don't really know why, I just do. I'm a desert rat by nature, and, more often than not, when I took vacations while apprenticing in Hell (aerospace), I almost always travelled to the Four Corners region and stayed there for weeks on end, solo hiking more often than not and exploring the red rock wastelands. Sheer beauty and then some. Along with art and the women I've known—well, most of 'em anyway—I'll go to my grave with those memories foremost, a smile on my face. When I listen to Suzanne Jarvie's Spiral Road, I'm reminded of times when more than a few followed that same wont, lived closer to the earth, took quiet pleasure just in the effortless act of existence, wanted no part of the rat race if it could be helped. Take look at this video:

I know those places, I've driven those roads, I've talked to the people; hopefully, you have too. If not, you don't know what you're missing…but this CD's a very good opportunity to remedy such absent ingredients of temperament. Ms. Suzanne harkens back to bygone days and wonders if the price of progress is actually worth it or are we all koyaanisqatsi? I know how I'd answer, but I always like to defease at least a little to people somewhat less cynical than me (which, er, means just about everyone on planet Earth). Jarvie's one of those poetesses whose wont runs counter to much of her gender's Betty Crocker tendencies, far more realistic, a good deal more metaphorically gripping:

Broken heads, broken hearts
Broken wholes and broken parts
I guess we were broken from the start
Sometimes fixing's not the way,
You waste your time, and then you pay
Still, it's impossible to stay

From the atom to the sun
From the many to the one
Glass cathedral under rain
News that made us all insane
Facts that beat you from behind
None to know and undefined
Never leave or never mind
Pride that comes before the pain
Wounds that heal but leave a stain
Total loss, total gain

'Neath the sing-song rhyming patterns lurk a wealth of revelations had only through studies in neuro-biology, zen, AmerIndian wisdoms, and manifestos like Terence McKenna's The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. Jarvie may hail from the Southwest, but her grasp of things embraces all humankind, and does so through a fetching combination of Joan Baez by way of Emmylou Harris. Spiral Road is produced by Hugh Christopher Brown, who tackled the chores to excellent effect on David Corley's unusual Available Light (here), and the music crew is perfectly in tune with Jarvie's folk/roots/mello-rock traditions frequently recalling the marvelous work of Iain Matthews (Matthews Southern Comfort, Plainsong, Hi-Fi, solo) with a definite skew to John Prine.

If you understand what that means, then you know I'm telling you to take your time with this CD: there's a lot more here than any first listen could possibly impart. And trust me that you need to read all the stanzas printed on the broadsheet of lyrics.

And where the hell is that incredible piece of rock in the background behind her, in that ranch photo??? Since I'll never get to Ayers Rock, I have GOT to go and commune with that slice of sandstone! It's grinning and smiling and taunting me…a lot like this CD's music.

Track List:

  • Before and After
  • 2458
  • Spiral Road
  • Never Gonna Stop
  • Tears of Love
  • Enola Gay
  • Angel of Light
  • Love is Now
  • Shrieking Shack
  • Wait for Me
  • Before and After (Redux)
All songs written by Suzanne Jarvie
except Shrieking Shack (Jarvie / Chaplin).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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