CD Review: Damion Suomi — Self Titled

[ 0 ] March 24, 2009 |

DamionSuomi

Damion Suomi

Self Titled

P is for Panda

By Julia Reidy

Atlanta art/music/charity
label P is for Panda presents its first signed artist’s first full-length
release: 38.4 minutes of Damion Suomi’s satisfying, alcohol-soaked tenor
crooning over a traditional Americana guitar band. Though the pool hall orchestrations (“San Francisco” is a barn
stomper and “Oh, Won’t You Please” is a group sing-along) are capable and
well-performed — even creative at times (“Darwin, Jesus, the Devil, & Me”
features an anthemic pedal steel jam-out in its B section) — they’re the type
that has been found on numerous releases before. The real meat of the record
lies in Suomi’s lyrical sensibilities, an odd mixture of wry humor, bald
emotion (“One More Time”) and utter bitterness (“Waltz”). Suomi communicates
his thoughts without flower or flourish. It’s a straight-ahead look at
disillusionment and the walls people put up to avoid pain.

Obviously, Suomi’s narrator has a difficult relationship
with the women in his life. Lead-off “Archer Woman,” for example, features the
simple refrain, “Don’t let her see me cry … she never got the best of me.” The
album presents an interesting mixture of the humble and the jaded. “Darwin,
Jesus, The Devil & Me” discusses love as relates to mortality, redemption
as relates to everyday sin. “You’re only human, boy / Don’t worry too much,”
Suomi intones, his vocal style startlingly reminiscent of R.E.M.’s Michael
Stipe. And nearly every track discusses struggles with sobriety while singing
the praises of alcohol itself (“Sunday Morning,” “Ghost”). All the ideas
explored in his songs touch on the internal conflict surrounding losing
control, as one does with relationships, with substances and with death. Suomi
may have inadvertently written a theme album.

The record’s stand-out track, whether good or bad, is
doubtless the duet “What a Wonderful Game.” It’s a tale of two adults whose
paths cross romantically over and over because of loneliness and moderate
alcohol abuse. It’s sort of tragic (“We’re just drunk enough / Let’s fuck each
other up like we do … We’re both so fucked up always / What a wonderful game
that we play”) but surprisingly ends almost hopefully. Maybe that’s the moral
of Suomi’s sad story, if there’s one to be found at all.

Category: CD Reviews

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