If I said that Norwegian artist Susanna had previously collaborated with the likes of Jenny Hval and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy then free-thinking experimentation would possibly spring to mind. That said, she’s no stranger to creating her own intellectual headspace as she so ably demonstrated on her 2016 first self-produced album, Triangle. Her lineup included experimental musicians including Anja Lauvdal of Skadedy – a band on the Hubro roster who describe them as a Norwegian democratic-anarchistic band. She described the album as “soul music for lost souls” and I’m guessing she left a lot of people wondering how she would follow up.
We don’t have long to wait to find out as the answer comes in the form of her 12th album ‘Go Dig My Grave’, due out February 9th via her own label SusannaSonata. If the title track and first single (out now) is anything to gauge it by then the surprise is going to be a very interesting one. Go Dig My Grave is a traditional folk song previously sung by Jean Ritchie. Speaking of how she discovered this Susanna explains: “During my trips to the States over the past years I have picked various Folkways records (which is an incredible label) and I have been able to discover some old songs. The label presents a broad variety of American folk songs and among my favourites are the Jean Ritchie albums, and her version of ‘Go Dig My Grave’. When I heard the song I knew immediately that I wanted to sing it, I was struck by the presence in her singing and the tragic story to the song. It took a while to make my own version of it though, to find the right way to present it.”
‘Go Dig My Grave’ is a unique project between Susanna, Swiss baroque harp player Giovanna Pessi, accordion player Ida Hidle and fiddle player & folk singer Tuva Syvertsen. The quartet have reworked ten eclectic songs from seemingly disparate worlds and brought them together on this album of sympathetic and beautiful interpretations. They lend their talents to traditional English and American folk songs, numbers by Purcell, Elizabeth Cotten, Joy Division and Lou Reed, as well a new composition by Susanna written to a poem from Charles Baudelaire’s once banned ‘Flowers of Evil’.
Produced by Deathprod and Susanna, ‘Go Dig My Grave’ was recorded at the world class Rainbow Studio in Oslo and is released on Susanna’s own label SusannaSonata. It is one of several extensive projects for Susanna in 2017, among them a notable work commissioned for one of Norway’s most important jazz festivals, Vossa Jazz. An hour-long piece inspired by the surreal pictures of the Dutch 15th century painter Hieronymus Bosch was premiered at the festival in April, and Susanna’s brand-new band, The Brotherhood of Our Lady, continues to play live in Norway through the fall of 2017.
‘Go Dig My Grave’ tracklist:
1. Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotten)
2. Cold Song (John Dryden/Henry Purcell)
3. Invitation to the Voyage (Charles Baudelaire/Susanna Wallumrød)
4. Rye Whiskey (Traditional)
5. The Willow Song (Anonymous)
6. Go Dig My Grave (Traditional)
7. Lilac Wine (James Shelton)
8. Wilderness (Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner)
9. The Three Ravens (Old English folk ballad)
10. Perfect Day (Lou Reed)
The artwork is by Arne Bendik Sjur, who also lent his art to the ‘Meshes of Voice’ release by Jenny Hval & Susanna in 2014.