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Review: Oh Susanna and Denis Ellsworth, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 27 January 2015

Canada has always punched above its weight on the singer-songwriter stage. Not just with some of the biggest names who still continue throughout the years to get better, this vast country has given us some of the most intelligent wordsmiths to put note to string.

Opening tonight’s “Canadian affair” is Prince Edward Island resident Dennis Ellsworth, a prolific writer and troubadour with a fine plaintive sound.

Any artist who can write a song about a pet and not make it sickly sweet but truly heartfelt is OK in my books. He is joined mid set by rising folk star John Smith who adds an amazing layer to the music. The two have been writing and the results are sublime “Perfect Storm” being a prime example written together just three days after they met. I have to mention the final song a cover of an unreleased Elvis Presley song called Dark Moon which Dennis learned off of a You Tube video, one of the finest songs I have heard in a long time.

Oh SusannaSuzie Ungerleider – aka ‘Oh Susanna’, informed us that she has been coming over to Glasgow and the UK for the last 15 years from her home in Toronto, gaining her a loyal and enthusiastic fan base over here.

She opens the show with the title track from her 2001 album Sleepy Little Sailor and if it has been a while since seeing her live, you can hear the depth that has grown in her vocals. She is joined on stage from the start by the immensely talented Jim Bryson on keyboard, guitar and a box of gizmos.

The majority of the show is based around her most recent album “Namedropper” a selection of covers with a difference.

Suzie wrote and called various songwriter friends and heroes to ask them to contribute by writing an original song for Suzie to record. She informed us that onlt a couple declined or never got back, but the pedigree of who agreed are Canadians finest wordsmiths.

Tonight’s highlights and there were a lot of them, like Joel Plasket’s Into My Arms a more rock feel than usual, her partner for the night Jim Bryson contributed the stunning tune “Oregon” which caused shiver down my spine, but the piano driven epic version of Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy song brought the house down.

Some of the finest female vocalists and songwriters have come out of Canada over the recent years with the likes of KD Lang and Neko Case; well make space on the list for Oh Sussanna it’s her time now. Outstanding!

Tom Hamilton

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

The Music Loft, Tuesdays 10.00pm

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