New York-based alt-folk and blues singer-songwriter Linda Sussman gets all shades of bold and vulnerable in a mix of sounds on Shake It Loose Today, her new full-length album out July 1, 2022. The first two tracks (“Chain of Hope” and the title track) are now available for sampling here. This latest collection of nine tracks is Sussman’s fourth LP in five years, following her successful 2021 release of These Walls (10 original tracks), which reached #1 on the Roots Music Report’s weekly Top Alternative Folk Album Chart shortly after its release and is ranked #5 on the RMR’s Best in 2021 Alternative Folk Album Chart.
Sussman’s unique vocals and strong fingerstyle and rhythm acoustic guitar work are once again complemented by her loyal backing musicians: Mike Nugent (dobro and lead guitar [electric/acoustic/classical]), Kevin Kelly (bass), Richie Guerrero (percussion), Shawn Murray (drums). Shake It Loose Today was produced by Sussman, recorded safely during the pandemic in separate home studios, mixed by Kevin Kelly (The Workshoppe East) and mastered by Mike Kalajian (Rogue Planet).
The album opens with “Chain of Hope,” a folk-rock anthem that Sussman says she wrote to spotlight freedom’s fragility and is dedicated to refugees and those who provide relief: “Freedom is fragile on any shore / the march for peace is long / The brutal orders / of an unprovoked war / truth lives at history’s core.” Sussman goes full bore rockin’ blues in the title track “Shake It Loose Today,” with a driving beat that is a perfect match for the lyrics: “Push through the fog when your chips are down / Move your woes to the far side of town / Get on your feet, step outta your way / Make some noise, shake it loose today.” Sussman says she hopes this song “will help to pull even one person back up from the darkness.”
Three tracks offer poignant perspectives on different aspects of love: Sussman bares universal vulnerabilities in “Will You Hold My Hand” as she confronts the questions of finding comfort in aging. With stirring lyrics that range from “Will you bring me daisies / from where we used to live” to “Will you hold my hand / when I haven’t much more to give,” Sussman’s honesty bleeds through every line. In “The Light Moves In,” Sussman explores when love is simply enough to soothe one’s pain: “The tears I brought are now somewhere in the wind / When you hold me, the light moves in.” And in “Honey We Gonna Fly,” Sussman delivers blues that swing as she sings about boldly stepping out with one’s lover: “We’ll meet beneath the oak by the pond / out of the shadows arm in arm.”
A danceable, up-tempo groove defines “Movin’ Up Neck on Your Guitar,” which takes a lighthearted look at confronting the daunting task of starting something new: “You gotta chug-chug to the start / step up and get it done / no matter if it falls apart / as time nears the setting sun.” In “Deja Vu,” Sussman honors changes in the aging with a song dedicated to her Dad, who, she notes, in his later years found old friends in each new face: “It was a feeling you were here before / You knew every face when you walked through the door.”
Sussman’s versatility continues in two duos: “A Better Scene” (Sussman-Nugent guitar duo) reveals the pain of struggling to find a place to fit in: “It’s been dry as dirt / where nothin’ much grows green / I’ve been thirstin’ / for a better scene.” And in “Dream Big” (Sussman-Kelly guitar-bass duo), Sussman challenges us all to “dream big / lift up / get real / in this land we love.”