At some point in life we all face that inevitable question of “who do I want to be?” It usually occurs at major junctions in our lives when we must decide where we want to go. But, for many of us, this question lingers constantly in the back of our conscience resonating within the multitude of decisions we face each day. For singer-songwriter Suzanna Choffel, the question manifested itself into the seemingly conflicted struggle of balancing her pursuit of a stable family life and her craving for musical adventures. The juxtaposition of these forces married wonderfully to form the driving theme in her latest album Hello Goodbye.
Several of Hello Goodbye’s songs could be associated with major events in Choffel’s life. In the seven years since she recorded her previous album, Steady Eye, Shaky Bow, she has competed in front of millions on The Voice, chased her rockstar dreams in the Big Apple, and, most notably, delivered her greatest treasure: a beautiful daughter.
“I wrote a few of these songs before Lulu [daughter] was ever a twinkle in my eye. But, they still dealt with that push and pull of opposing desires,” claims Choffel. Nowhere in Hello Goodbye is that battle more evident than in the introspective opening track, ‘Continental Drift.’ “I wrote that song before moving to New York,” states the Austin native. “I began questioning my desires of staying grounded and connected to my roots in Austin versus setting out and trying something completely different. On ‘Continental Drift’ Choffel melodically illustrates her conflicting desires through a lucid inner-monologue that floats across the ambient waves of Charlie Sexton’s mandolin-cello: “And so you have to decide…on which plane will you reside/One will rise an empire and the other one will fall.”
Hello Goodbye was not intended to be a concept album. But, it does tell a story. And had Choffel not journeyed to New York, that story would sound much differently. “I think it took me moving away to embrace some of the rootsier, funkier sounds that found their way on here,” she admits. “Especially in ‘Sinkin’ Down,’ ‘Lately For You’ and ‘Keep on Movin’ — some of the grittier, bluesier ones.”
A versatile and crafty urban folktress, Choffel excels within the various genres that span across Hello Goodbye which fuses together blues, jazz, funk, and rock; each track showcasing a different element of her ‘honey husked’ vocals. The upbeat, guitar-driven ‘Follow’ shimmies with infectious pop while the soft and jazzy, Bob Marley-inspired ‘I Could Be Loved’ leisurely plucks at the heart strings. The sultry vocalist plays hard-to-get while exploring new territory on the Madonna-influenced, club-pop of ‘New Word’ and basks in the sun-soaked, beachy-pop of ‘Inspire Me’ strummed sweetly through her ukulele.
Choffel’s maternal spirit radiates through ‘Go Forth’, a heartfelt inspirational ballad with an origin that transcends the everyday into the supernatural. “When I sat down to write that song, the words just flowed through me,” she claims. “It was so bazaar, finding out a week later that I was pregnant. The more I reflect on it, it’s almost like Lulu helped me write it.”
Hello Goodbye, bids farewell with the soothing acoustic lullaby of ‘Wish You Well’…“Oh we are the hearty and we are the weak…We are only as good as the words that we speak. If my heart is the temple, my tongue will be the bell…And I wish you well.”
The reoccurring themes of love, passion, creation and renewal provide continuity to Hello Goodbye, while each track presents a unique opposition between sweet and soft and folk and funk. The album features David Boyle on keys, production and engineering, JJ Johnson on drums, Charlie Sexton and Andrew Trube on guitar, Brad Houser and Cat Popper on bass, Davìd Garza on vocals and guitars, and Jazz Mills and Michael Kingcaid on vocals.
Choffel may spend the rest of her life debating between which plane in life she wishes to reside. However, her passion is plentiful for both her family and her music and as long as mamma and Lulu are happy, her fans will be too.
“Hello Goodbye” will be release on Friday, May 12. There will be an official album release party the evening of May 12 at 3Ten at Austin City Limits Live located at 310 W Willie Nelson Blvd. #1a, Austin, Texas 78701. Doors will be at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
Choffel will be joined by Dan Dyer and Jonathan Terrell at the official album release party on May 12.
The official album release party in Houston will take place on Saturday, May 13 at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck located at 2425 Norfolk St, Houston, TX 77098.
The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
In addition to the album release party, Choffel has also been selected to participate in the Americana Music Series presented by Sun Radio. The music series highlights Americana artists playing 3TEN ACL Live, the new intimate venue downstairs from ACL Live in the heart of downtown Austin, in partnership with solar-powered local station Sun Radio.
For additional information, please see http://www.suzannachoffel.com
Written by: Douglas Leach