You Were There - Suzie Stapleton (self released)
So why is a free downloadable single such a significant item?
Because it’s not just a cheaper snapshot into an artist’s work. It can be an Instagram into an imaginary, lush and extraordinary world. The single worships the song itself, transforms it from one more song in a sequence (as with a CD or LP) and one more song in a set, and draws the song into greater, more concentrated focus.
Which means, when you hear something labelled a single, if it’s an old single, like from before the 1990s, you really do have to imagine the new owner playing the song over and over.
With downloads, it’s a bit different. Most bands just seem to shove something on Bandcamp and leave it at that. Half the time the mix is indifferent because we’re not really expecting a lot from a download (which kinda begs the point actually, and don’t give me that bitrate crap, most people plump for cheaper options).
Born in Sydney, Susie kick-started her career in Melbourne (I’ve seen her several times) and shifted to London, where she regularly supports bands like Jim Jones
There’s been some big comparisons made about Suzie, though - it’s best to ignore things like this - particularly when you’re only looking at one song, and particularly as you can’t fully gauge where or what landscape Suzie is looking at right now.
"You Were There" is wonderful. A tad long for your oldies 7”, which will mean that trad radio, with the jerk jocks and what’s happnin' jive, will avoid her. Which is all to the good - it means it gets reviewed here, and you get to sample it without interference.
So, slow, lustrous, moody and magnificent. Delicate touches of deep rivers and gothic noir, aspects of the past without appearing nostalgic… I spose you need some comparisons to hang your hat on: Suzie kind of reminds me a little of Jeffrey Lee Pierce (and not just because she’s on Lydia Lunch’s and Cypress Grove’s new CD either, nor the "Axels and Sockets" CD), with a grr-ing rumble perhaps recalling the Bad Seeds’ more effective later songs.
But it’s her voice, and those lyrics; that throaty, coated breath which covers you like a vampire’s cape. What’s the song about - well. The lyrics are on her website; let’s just say they tell one story, but as you read it, you realise it could be about something else… or something else again. And yet, the lyric is so simple, elegant… yeah.
Just … shut up and grab the thing, and while you’re at it, go to her website and snaffle her other two excellent CDs, buy a t-shirt, and a ticket to a gig in London (it’s in November, so you have plenty of time to get your flight and accom sorted).
Like singles used to, "You Were There" costs shrapnel, will fit perfectly into your mixtape, and will have people asking ‘who the fuck is THIS?’, thinking they’ve missed out on some huge superstar.
Which, of course, they have. She just hasn’t exploded yet.
Cannot wait for her LP.