Susanna Hoffs

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Susanna Hoffs’ new solo album, Someday, is an intensely personal song cycle that doubles as a musical love letter to the music of the 1960s, which, she says, “has always been my reference point for everything.” Produced and orchestrated by Mitchell Froom, the LP is heartfelt and immediate, oozing refinement but without a trace of pretense. On an album full of stylistic surprises, including the summery groove of “This Is the Place,” the evocative “November Sun” and the lilting “Picture Me”, with its Bacharach-style sophistication, lush retro arrangements and modern state-of-the-art production enclose Hoffs’ one-of-a-kind voice in an aural tapestry of velvet and lace.

“The album was inspired by my yearning to sing songs that were as melodic and emotional as my favorite music of the 1960s,” Hoffs says. “We recorded ten original songs, eight of which I wrote in a flurry over a period of a few months with Andrew Brassell. He’s a 27-year-old musician from Nashville, who’s been on the indie club scene there since he was a teenager. So the project started with me, this talented boy from Nashville, two guitars and a reverb pedal. The first song we wrote was ‘Picture Me,’ though the original version sounded more like a country duet, in the style of Johnny Cash and June Carter. From there, we just wrote.”

They also updated two older songs: The first was “Raining,” which Hoffs wrote with Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers back in 1989. “I rediscovered an old cassette of it in a box, and Brassell and I did a rewrite of it to bring it up to date,” she says. “And then there was ‘November Sun,’ a song I’d been carrying in my pocket since 1998. The melody was so natural to sing, and it had a baroque folk/pop style that ended up becoming the template for the rest of the album.”

On a chance meeting at a Ron Sexsmith/Caitlin Rose show at Largo, Hoffs ran into Froom. Though she’d known Froom since he played the signature keyboard riff on the Bangles’ “Manic Monday,” they hadn’t worked together since those 1986 sessions. When Hoffs told him about her new material, Froom said he wanted to hear it. She assumed he was just being polite, but he called three days later, so she and Brassell went to his studio with a couple of guitars and played the new songs for him; they had no demos. When he heard the songs, Froom asked if he could produce the album.

"Susanna is one the few great, pure pop singers working today,” says Froom. “She sings melodies and words simply, yet with tremendous exuberance, subtlety, and charisma. These recordings were very much designed to showcase her singing in a way that harkens back to vocal records of the ’60s—Lulu, Dionne Warwick, Petula Clark, etc. A lot of effort and care was put into the writing and harmonization of the songs, designing arrangements, cutting the tracks with great musicians and live singing—all with the intention of complementing Susanna’s voice.”

“We approached the recording process with the spirit of the ’60s as our guide,” Hoffs recalls. “My microphone was set up in the studio right next to the band, and we went for broke on each take until we got a keeper. I had made a playlist of songs that we used as a reference for the … Read More

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