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Susanna @ International House.

March 31, 2014

SusannaOnlineText and image by Donte Kirby.

Susanna, Charles Cohen and Chris Forsyth each showcased their craft at the International House last Tuesday night.

Chris Forsyth opened the show, one man sitting in a chair in dim light, strumming his guitar. A lauded guitarist who has been living in Philly since 2009, he has received acclaim for his most recent record Solar Motel from the likes of The New Yorker, Uncut and Pop Matters.

Forsyth’s playing evoked imagery of walking through a long corridor while having a distinct awareness of time. The presence of Forsyth’s guitar was distinct, drawing you in the moment you heard his playing.

When Forsyth finished his performance, an unassuming man with white hair, flannel shirt and sky blue sweater walked on stage and stood behind a blue and red 1970’s Buchla Music Easel. He began twisting knobs and alternating wires. Charles Cohen made sounds ranging from joyful rhythmic machinations to sonar under the ocean to water dripping in a cave.

Cohen is an improvisational artist, which makes the fluidity and natural progressions in his performance all the more amazing. Cohen’s music takes you on a journey through the unknown.

Susanna, which has performed in many different formats, such as Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, arrived as a three piece.

“I am Susanna,” lead singer Susanna Karolina Wallumrød announced. “We are Susannna.”

She sat at a piano, waving her hand toward guitarist Helge Sten and drummer Fredrik Wallumrød, who also performed beautiful backing vocals that complemented Susanna’s voice well, especially in their cover of “Joy and Jubilee.”

The Norwegian songstress performed songs from her back catalog and covers alike. One of the most striking songs of the night was a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Dark and haunting, Susanna’s rendition was heart-wrenching, forcing you to empathize with a woman pleading for her man.

Susanna’s tour continues to Chicago, Louisville and the Big Ears festival in Knoxville.

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