Belgian pianist, composer, and songwriter Susan Clynes has been around since she performed in College doing Drama, Music Composition, and earning a degree at the Ghent Conservatory, which was founded under Leopold I back in 1835 who was the first King of the Belgians in which it was under independence from the Netherlands. Clynes is also married to keyboardist Antoine Guenet of SH.TG.N, The Wrong Object, and RIO legends Univers Zero, so she has been very busy in the music world.
That and her second album, Life Is…, which is a follow up to her 2005 debut, Sugar for a Dream, is released on the Moonjune label, is her international introduction, and the album is a live recording that she did at three live concerts and recorded them at two different locations; The Archiduc, and the Library of the Cultural Center of Bree with Simon Lenski on Cello, Pierre Mottet on Bass, and Nico Chkifi on Drums. Susan is almost both a singer and a conductor and she gives both Lenski, Mottet, and Chkifi to improvises on where she would go on the grand piano to decide which variation she would go into and take it up a notch that is hypnotic and mind-blowing to listen and hear. Not to mention five centerpieces to grab your attention and understanding of Clynes music.
You can feel the gentle and power on Clynes piano work and beautiful vocals, in which it has a resemblance to Thelonious Monk and Vince Guaraldi on the opening title track. It has this lovely melody that I’ve mentioned on Guaraldi’s lines that has a very much on waltz and a score to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts specials back in the mid ‘60s as if she is paying tribute to both pianists as if she is carrying the torch of the Jazz world.
When You’re Dead begins with this Gentle Giant-sque piano introduction with a soothing and emotional beauty of Clynes voice which it resembles Tori Amos and Laura Veirs as the tense between the melodic line of Susan and Lenski’s instruments as she sings the line “Where will you be when you’re/Where will you be when you are/ Where you will be when you’re” sixteen times before she sings the line, “Where will you be when you’re dead?” as the echoing sounds of the Cello and Clynes concerto waltz work that is a question for someone what will happen when you pass on and what will happen to me?
Les Larmes (Tears), is a features both the trio combined into one, deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is filled with emotion, ominous and heavier tones that sets up the tension between the two barriers and hoping for peace. You can feel the intensity between both Cello and Piano as the shrieking level comes to an increase yet nightmarish feel as if the war is still going on and it’s disturbing, yet raw and energetic before the scatting vocalization comes in and not to mention different time signatures. A moving and eruptive composition that would send shivers down your spine.
Le Voyage is Susan’s chance to give the listener a journey to the Scheldt with another of her piano concertos. On this composition, she pays tribute and homage to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells-era for the first two minutes and then the last few minutes of the piece that gives it a huge jolt before it goes into a lullaby and relaxation for the young one to sleep and let them know that everything’s okay before heading back into dance-mode to give it that beautiful warmth closing.
A Good Man, is both Pierre and Nico on Bass and Drums as to get away from the ominous, classical, and sadness pieces into a joyous romp enjoyment. From the sounds of the chord progressions that Susan does and Pierre’s walking bass line to do a catchy workout as they head into ‘50s rock-and-roll with a fast-driven tempo that gives them a perfect relaxation and have a blast before heading back into the progression tone.
For all of the amazement and un-expect the unexpected, and I have listened to this album about twelve times already and it is proven that Susan Clynes has brought a lot of power and energy to Life Is… and she provides the moment where she plays and sings to give the right moment at the right time she gives the band members the moment to hit at the exact same moment. This is an album that deserves some recognition. I can’t wait to see what she will think of next in the near future and this is an album that is highly recommended.