Over the last decade, Suzie Vinnick has become one of Canada’s favourite blues artists. Albums including 2018’s Shake That Love Around and 2011’s Me ‘n’ Mabel placed her on my roots radar, and Fall Back Home continues this string of impressive development. Given pandemic time to reflect, Vinnick has elected to pursue her music in a somewhat new manner.
With Fall Back Home, the Saskatoon-native—settled in the Niagara Region of Ontario—makes another significant step forward in the quality of her art. Always blues-based, Vinnick takes a more expansive roots stance on these eleven numbers. Americana, certainly, with the influence of folks like Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, and maybe Sue Foley apparent.
Guests on Fall Back Home include guitarist Bill Henderson (on Chilliwack’s moody classic “Rain-o”), Steve Dawson (pedal steel on a bluesy take of John Fogerty’s “Big Train (From Memphis)”), and Colin Linden on the especially appealing “Salt & Pepper.” Kevin Breit joins in contributing guitar on four songs include one of the finest cuts, “Talk to Me.” This song also features co-writer Matt Andersen on vocals with Vinnick; watch for this one at awards time.
This “Americana” feel is deliberate, Vinnick writes in the album’s notes. Producer Danny Greenspoon was entrusted to bring to the sessions the flavours Vinnick desired, and the results are cohesive and emotionally on-point. Songs like “It Doesn’t Feel Like Spring Anymore” and Breit’s “Hurt By Luck” poke at inner vulnerabilities, while “The Pie That My Baby Makes” (a co-write with Stevi Kittleson) and “Talk to Me” take less intense paths toward a similar thematic element.
“Secret” (a Karen Morand co-write) is a slow-burning return home, a country-infused blues song that may not get a lot of radio play due to its ‘downbeat’ restraint, but it is one of Vinnick’s most passionate performances.
Roy Forbes’ “Let Me Make It Up to You Tonight” and Vinnick’s own “Lift You Up” (a second Morand co-write) offer appealing approaches to blues-roots songwriting and performance; Linden contributes guitar here as well. Vinnick’s voice has always been impressive, but with this material she further solidifies her place with confident and warm takes.
I keep coming back to “Lift You Up,” with good reason. With Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar contributing vocals, along with Linden’s guitar, this song is especially impactful. Inspiring. Another memorable song, “Hurt By Luck” with Vinnick singing a lonesome song of betrayal in a warm, engaging manner, is another I can’t shake off; it fittingly closes the album, leaving things at a high point.
At times introspective and vibrant, Suzie Vinnick has created a roots album of rocking rhythms with bluesy moods and country soul.
Her finest yet? Quite possibly.