Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lucy Wainwright Roche & Suzzy Roche – Mud & Apples

Mud & Apples

Lucy Wainwright Roche is the daughter of singer-songwriters Suzzy Roche – best known as one of The Roches with her sisters Maggie and Terre – and Loudon Wainwright III.

As I mentioned in my review of her 2010 album, Lucy, “Lucy reminds me more of her mother’s music than her father’s. The melodies, the sometimes quirky lyrics, the way she harmonizes…have a similar kind of appeal to The Roches.”

So it’s not surprising that Lucy – who maintains an active solo career and also works in a duo with her half-sister, Martha Wainwright – has formed a duo with her mother and released Mud & Apples, a lovely combination of original material (four by Suzzy, one by Lucy) and six well-known, but well-suited, cover songs.

The album opens with Suzzy’s “Cold October Day,” a break-up song that begins on a cold autumn day with the narrator’s brave and philosophical resoluteness to move on – after all the sun still comes up the next day – and then moves through the seasons. She’s still resolute at the start of winter when the snow comes – she knows it will eventually melt – but admits to her heartbreak in spring. Finally, come summer, she’s come to terms with the break-up and does move on. The song is a subtle reminder of the importance of the cycle of seasons on our lives and of taking the needed time to deal with emotions.

Suzzy’s other fine songs include “Melancholy Ways,” which may have been written as a personal heartbreak song but which, in these particularly troubled times, also works as a song of universal heartbreak as we witness recent events in Dallas, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Paris, Brussels, Jerusalem, Baghdad and so many – too many – other places; “There’s a Guy,” a partner’s tribute to a longstanding love; and “Dinner Out,” in which she offers comfort and advice to a friend going through difficult times.

Lucy’s title song, “Mud and Apples,” is a lovely lullaby that a mother might sing to comfort a child at bedtime.

Among my favorites of the cover songs are “Rhythm of the Rain,” the Cascades 1963 hit that was also beautifully done by my late friend Jesse Winchester on his final studio album, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble; Paul Simon’s “Bleecker Street,” a sad portrait of a Greenwich Village scene in the early-1960s; and a simultaneously familiar and fresh sounding version of “Both Sides Now,” Joni Mitchell’s enduring classic.

As on many of the great Roches albums, it’s sometimes hard to tell who is singing lead and who is supplying the perfect familial harmonies. And Lucy (vocals and guitar) and Suzzy (vocals, guitar, piano) get strong but subtle and never obtrusive support from pianist Patrick Tully, bassist Stewart Lerman, who has worked on any number of Roches-related projects, and multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield. (Chaim Tannenbaum recently told me that he can’ imagine why anyone would want to make an album without having David Mansfield on it.)

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--Mike Regenstreif

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