Review by John Apice
Hither – To This Place EP
Former lead singer Suzanne Kramer of The Sugar Ponies teamed recently with multi-instrumentalist Mark Jeffrey & became Hither.
The debut 5-song To This Place (Independent-Drops March 29) has a 6th cut — a radio remix of the first track & is available now. Suzanne continues with her true Americana-roots showcase she so brilliantly exhibited with The Sugar Ponies. At times on this collection, she carries along with her style a potent early Sheryl Crow promise – a promise Ms. Crow never developed fully.
The opener has nice acoustics & banjo, but I would eliminate the dated “electronic” sounding preliminary drumbeats at the beginning. Stick to real drums with wire brushes if possible. A more analog approach makes this music far richer sounding than adding a cheesy techno edge. The song “This Road” is delightful in itself. I do admit the drums (Jay Tooke) fall back as Jay plays into what sounds like a tight real drum sound. Someone was thinking. It was a popular hollow drum sound a few years ago & everyone used it but it was grating, it’s dated now & still fake. I like that they didn’t maintain it throughout the song.
Grammy Award-winning producer Ed Stasium returns & lays down excellent production to allow Ms. Kramer substantial presence. By cut 2 “Believe It,” Suzanne’s voice is fully soulful & energetic with commercial mainstream potential. Mark Jeffrey starts with a good groove & the duo is impressive together. The semi-Muscle Shoals-type horns & lead guitar (Tyler Cain) punctuate nicely. Jordan Glasgow adds organ & electric piano but never intrudes.
“Have Me Again,” is a warm jazzy R&B showcase with Suzanne’s always on the money vocal intonation, phrasing & tone. She shines & sings her lyrics eloquently with finesse. Beautiful guitar work (Tomas Salcedo) with Quante Johnson (bass). Sparkles throughout.
Track 4 is fine with solid vocals & pedal steel (Stevie Cornell). Their cover of Squeeze’s classic “Tempted” (written by Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook) is a good choice of cover. No embellishments just gentle Mary Hopkin-type singing & a perfect melody for Suzanne.
The radio remix of “This Road,” is well done. The CD art for the EP To This Place was not available at press time so their first single artwork for “This Road,” is featured. https://hithermusic.bandcamp.com/track/this-road
The San Francisco duo has an interesting 24-minute musical horn of plenty – a full album should be really flavorful. The CD is available @ https://hithermusic.com/