Kelley Suttenfield: When We Were Young Kelley Suttenfield Sings Neil Young

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:2 mins read

Kelley Suttenfield

When We Were Young
Kelley Suttenfield Sings Neil Young

(Kelley Suttenfield Music)

September 20, 2019

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes

Kelley Suttenfield’s voice is like a fleece blanket. When Neil Young’s familiar coarseness is traded for a cozy sound with occasional back-end warble, material emerges fresh. A relaxed “Harvest Moon” breathes in the night, by a fire, on a back porch, rocking. The arrangement is languid. The vocal wafts.

“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” conjures Pooh & Piglet walking hand in hand down a dusty forest path. One is Suttenfield, the other is guitarist/background vocalist Tosh Sheridan, whose contribution to this CD is appreciable. The two create an appealing ambience. Matthew Fries’ piano has the feel of wet grass on bare feet, individual blades touching, bending, springing back.

Lesser known, “The Needle and the Damage Done” tiptoes in on Phil Palumbi’s resonant bass and the soft thunk of drums (Eric Halvorson). It’s a song about shadows, lost souls, discarded lives. She still loves him, of course. The vocal is dark—half resignation, half longing.

“Barefoot Floors” arrives eeezzzeee, breathy. Suttenfield drifts in on brushes and delicate guitar. It’s truly a lullaby and simply lovely. Like “The Losing End” (Young’s signature song), “Old Man,” stretches the vocalist’s accent to a western feel. “Love lawst, such a cawst,” she aptly sings. Phrases grow, enlongate. Piano is all swaying hips and shoulders. Evocative.

Caveat: The strings on “Heart of Gold,” “Love Is a Rose,” and “Down by the River” dilute the lyrical meaning and visceral effect by smoothing things over. The CD would have been more successful and perhaps truer without them.

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.