Soundcheck Sunday

A two-fer today. First: Oh Susanna, “Tangled and Wild”

Second: “Alabaster”

Both of these songs featured in Hilary Birmingham’s 2000 film “Tully,” a striking independent production that shamefully few people saw. (Listen to Roger if you won’t believe me.) “Tangled and Wild” played over the closing credits, and while I’d been familiar with Suzie Ungerleider in the abstract (I’d seen her play at a couple of different Lillith Fairs ahead of this), “Tully” was the first time I’d ever really heard her music, if you know what I mean. And I knew I had to run out and buy the album.

“Johnstown,” the 1999 album from which both of these tracks were taken, was another one of those records that made me seriously reassess my music collection. It seemed, for a variety of reasons, like I should have had stacks of this kind of music, except I didn’t. It has this old, folkloric, ancestral quality to it, and I loved it to bits. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve talked about this several times before.) Like much really good music, it evokes a time and a place that probably only ever really existed — for those of us alive today — in sepia-toned photographs, dusty books, and odd little soundless movies about life at the turn of the last century; a world of cracked, sun-dried creekbeds, tall virgin prairie grass, hot winds whipping through the trees, and the cry of swallows in the distance.

I picture, for some reason, my grandparents homestead in Southern Alberta with this music.

Anyway, just listen to the music, listen to Suzie’s voice. It’s just mesmerizing.