Suzie Vinnick started out singing blues covers in her native Saskatoon. Now based in Toronto, she’s subsequently built a stellar reputation as both vocalist and songwriter, although that reputation is probably stronger among fellow musicians than the general public. Happy Here, her third solo outing, should raise her profile considerably – it’s an utterly perfect piece of Canadian pop, as breezy and easy to take as a sunny summer day.
Producer Stephen Fearing pulls out all the stops here, assembling an all-star cast of Canada’s finest and building shimmery, layered arrangements that cushion Vinnick’s introspective musings with loving warmth. That warmth can be deceptive, however – there’s a surprising anger at the core of opener “Believe In Yourself,” and many of the tunes find Vinnick mired in melancholy, either yearning for or reflecting on lost love. But there’s an equally inescapable sense that Vinnick has the strength of a willow tree, able to bend with the blows and retain a measure of hope despite romantic disappointment. She’s just too smart to descend into despair; instead she seeks solace in the sheer poetry of her lyrics and the satisfaction of a well-crafted song.
Vinnick’s been compared to various artists, among them a young Bonnie Raitt. I’d add fellow Canadian k.d. lang to the list, another artist possessed of a remarkable voice who manages to make everything she touches seem utterly effortless, and whose work is suffused with a distinct if indefinable Canadian quality. There’s something here that speaks of sun and space and a big, big sky above – Vinnick’s imagery includes lots of references to the natural world, adding to the organic feel of proceedings while providing a broad canvas for her clear-eyed observations.
Self-examination and confessional lyrics are nothing new, of course, but Vinnick digs deeper than most. And while there are co-writer credits attached to most tunes (Fearing’s name appearing most often), there’s an unflinching honesty to Vinnick’s emotional explorations that says these songs come straight from a bravely bared and genuinely warm heart.
A wonderful collection, there’s simply not a weak moment to be found on Happy Here. From beginning to end, it’s a delightful slice of pop perfection ... very highly recommended!