This Life

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

Su­san Green­baum

Com­pass/Planet HAR­VARD grad­u­ate Su­san Green­baum’s de­ci­sion to quit her day job as an ex­ec­u­tive in a big US cor­po­ra­tion to pur­sue a com­par­a­tively pre­car­i­ous ca­reer as a singer-song­writer has not paid ma­jor com­mer­cial div­i­dends. Not that her heart­felt and hook-laden songs, clad in a genre-strad­dling mix of folk, blues, coun­try and pop, aren’t worth their weight in gold. Stylis­ti­cally and vo­cally she in­hab­its the same neck of the woods as Joni Mitchell, Janis Ian, Em­my­lou Har­ris and Sh­eryl Crow and other roots-ori­ented Amer­i­can song­birds. Green­baum writes in­tel­li­gent yet re­fresh­ingly un­com­pli­cated and hon­est lyrics that re­late to her life but res­onate in a wider con­text. A mov­ing imag­ined ad­dress to a brother who suc­cumbed to can­cer sets the tone on her fifth al­bum. Throughout This Life she touches on other mat­ters close to her heart. Many women may re­late to sen­ti­ments ex­pressed in He’s Not Leavin’, which opens with: He says it’s com­pli­cated, he says that he

wants to re­ar­range his life I say he’s over­rated and he al­ready has a wife He says he re­ally loves you, he says that it’s

only a mat­ter of time I say his ac­count is past due, and his word

isn’t worth a dime In Walk In These Shoes, she ad­vo­cates on be­half of the hand­i­capped: ‘‘ Take a walk in these shoes, take a ride in this chair/ I don’t sing my own blues, I just want what is fair’’. Dark hu­mour and funny twists off­set the se­ri­ous­ness else­where: The Squir­rel Song equates to Loudon Wain­wright’s

cel­e­brated Dead Skunk ditty.

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