Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Suzi Chunk - Girl From The Neck Down

Cardiff-based chanteuse joins forces with Medway band Groovy Uncle for her debut long-player.

I'm a bit of a Johnny-Come-Lately to this excellent debut album from Suzi Chunk. It was released last autumn on State Records. Around that time I heard Mark Radcliffe play one of its tracks, “No Stone Unturned”, on his BBC 6Music show which piqued my interest. With Suzi's soulful voice over that slinky, slightly psychedelic groove, it left its mark. It wasn't until later in the year that a review copy dropped through my letterbox but better late than never is what I say. Since its release the album has gone on to top Shindig! magazine writer's poll as album of the year and justifiably so.

I've always had a soft spot for Dusty Springfield's purple patch of '60s releases, that peculiar and unlikely mix of confidence and vulnerability in her voice. Girl From The Neck Down has that in spades, best evidenced on the wistful “Eyes On The Prize”. Here's an album of new songs which sound old, yet with a spirited freshness. The playing, singing and song writing are simply of a standard that goes beyond pastiche, helped in no small part to the fact the whole record comes over as heartfelt. 

Click over the jump for more on Girl From The Neck Down.
Despite its sound being rooted in the mid '60s, there's a classicism that permeates the whole album making it feel timeless. OK so it takes its inspiration from the mid '60s beat era, but there's something absolutely eternal and occasionally topical about the album's lyrical concerns. Take “Big Screen” where the ever present sadness of hours wasted on the football and booze are laid bare. Such a song could only have been written in contemporary Britain.

All the songs on Girl From The Neck Down were penned by Groovy Uncle's Glenn Prangnell (ex Kravin' A's). It's a collection of songs that's stylistically diverse yet makes for a cohesive one-sitting listen. From the Dexys-do-northern-soul opening track “For The Millionth Time”, through the introspective folksiness of “Wish Away The Moon” to the bossa-swing of “Probably Normal”, it never repeats itself or disappoints. Hopefully this successful pairing of Chunk and Prangnell will yield more fruits and there'll be a follow-up in the not too distant future. In the meantime this will do nicely. Got any mantras? Yes, put that Suzi Chunk album on again.