Oh Susanna – Johnstown

Album Review | Continental Song City | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

It’s hard to believe that twenty years have passed since the initial release of Oh Susanna’s debut album Johnstown at the back end of the last Millennium. Suzie Ungerleider began her musical journey four years earlier in the mid-Nineties, with the launch of the Canadian singer songwriter’s debut EP following shortly afterwards. A year later, five acoustic songs emerged as A Shot of Oh Susannah, each of which would later appear in more polished form on this album, included here as bonus tracks. Johnstown was always a bold statement that showcased Oh Susanna’s burgeoning prowess as a credible songwriter with a convincing voice to match, a sort of Patti Smith attitude delivered via Emmylou Harris tonsils. Produced by Peter J Moore (Cowboy Junkies, The Band), Johnstown has barely dated in the intervening years, in fact it sounds as fresh today as it did upon its initial release. Songs like “Alabaster”, “Old Kate”, “You’ll Always Be” and the title song mark Oh Susanna as one of Canada’s most convincing folk voices around today and the reissue of this landmark album reminds us of this fact all over again.

Choice Track: “Alabaster” (NSV 484)