Suzy Bogguss (what a name!) has been a leading country singer in the US for at least 16 years. Possessed of a sweet, clear voice she has always sung what she wants to sing, rather than following the Nashville juggernaut (driven by the need to produce more radio-friendly pop/rock/epic ballad orientated country music, a la Shania, or LeAnn, or Garth); consequently she is relatively unknown, at least here in the UK. With the recent switch to the independent label Campadre she has produced an absolute cracker of an album, 12 songs in lilting jazz/western swing style, influenced by, but not copying, the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra that she grew up listening to in her childhood. In fact she leaves those two giants alone; the three covers here are from Nat King Cole ("Straighten Up..."), Billie Holiday ("Comes Love") and Duke Ellington ("Do Nothing..."), and there are five new songs in the same mould by renowned jazz writer April Barrows. Suzy sings them fairly straight, but sounds as if she's enjoying herself, and doesn't have to shout against the backing or try to prove any special artistic point. Produced by Asleep At The Wheel's Ray Benson, with other members making up the backing band, rather than giving these songs the heavy-footed big band treatment, they have a much more subtle jazz-club feel. With plenty of acoustic bass, fiddle, piano as well as guitar and the odd sax/clarinet, the album has a wonderful laid back, easy feel. In fact, although this will inevitably be filed under "Country & Western" it would be equally appropriate under jazz or easy listening. The only slight disappointment is the length, at 37 minutes you're left wanting more, but there are no weak tracks, or fillers such as spoil many albums these days, so we'll forgive her for that and look forward to the next one.
Yes, this is very pleasant to listen to. Suzy swings through a selection of jazzy numbers with a band led by Ray Benson, of "Asleep at the Wheel" fame, Its very professional, and quite toe-tapping, but I cant quite help thinking both Suzy and Ray are much better when they are singing and playing Country music. If you can get this cheap, and like the artists, then its quite a good buy, but not for Country music fans, really.