Record Review: Susan Werner

Susan Werner
Kicking The Beehive
Chicago, IL

“Stirring up trouble where she can”

Fans of folk staple Susan Werner might double-check their disc when first placing Kicking The Beehive in the stereo. Sure, that unmistakable voice is Werner’s, but these songs are unlike anything she’s turned out before. Never a stranger to innovation, Werner’s most recent releases include Classics, a cover album featuring orchestral arrangements, The Gospel Truth, which Werner describes as agnostic gospel music, and 2004’s I Can’t Be New, which featured songs written in the style of The Great American Songbook.

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Kicking The Beehive somehow manages to surpass all expectations, even with such big shoes to fill. It’s part rockabilly, part blues, part Americana. The pulse is all over the place, yet the record never feels anything but cohesive. Werner tackles LGBT rights (“I Know What I Want”), homelessness (“Sleeping On A Train”), and parenthood (“My Different Son”) with poignant precision. Each arrangement is lush and meant to be savored, thanks to masterful production by Rodney Crowell. Kicking The Beehive is evidence that Susan Werner has no trouble reinventing herself year after year; and she’s damn good at it. (Sleeve Dog Records)

Produced by Rodney Crowell

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