Life Is…, the new album from Belgian singer, pianist, composer Susan Clynes, is one truly remarkable piece of work. Her music is challenging, her performance emotionally charged. The album is the work of a true artist. Her songs are not the typical June, moon clichés. She writes with honesty and sincerity, and the result is something special.
The tracks on the album were recorded live from three concerts at two different locations. Two of the concerts were staged at Brussels Archiduc, a venerable Art Deco bar. In one concert, Clynes is joined by Pierre Mottet on bass and Nico Chkifi on drums; in the other, she is working with Simon Lenski on the cello. The third concert was a solo performance at the Library of the Cultural Center of Bree. The energy emanating from live performance is palpable.
The set opens with the album’s title song—an optimistic anthem to an individual’s ability to make the most of one’s life. “Life,” she asserts, “is what you choose to make of it/Will you stop or will you grow.” This sort of optimism is pervasive in song after song. In “Childhood Dreams,” she emphasizes the need for those dreams of youth to be nourished, kept alive and shared. In “Ileana’s Song,” she talks about “the force of love that’s here to stay.” Ileana becomes a symbol of all one’s hopes and expectations for the future. In “Linear Blindness” she points out that even in despair there is hope: “When I’m down in a dungeon someone always throws me a rope.”
The album concludes with a final image of hope and beauty with “Butterflies” repeated over and over again. It is the beauty of life asserting itself in the beauty of the image: “Flowers dancing/ Rainbows prancing.” It is the beauty of life asserting itself in the beauty of the music.