Tucked away in the press release that came with “The LA Sessions” is this passage: “Susan does not lay down at the bar or let herself languish in a cheap motel room. She always has her car parked in front of the door and knows and understands that the road has no end. Life is a road movie.”
It is surely one of the great pieces of prose to describe a record, and yet, when you listen to the four songs on the EP, it is entirely accurate.
There is something cinematic contained within its boundaries, something mystical, something intangible that suggests if you peel away the veneer of the surface, there is a very bleak heart beneath.
Back in December 2019, Susan Santos took herself to LA to record with Fabrizio Grossi (Supersonic Blues Machine) and Tony Morra on Drums (Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift) and ever since the idea that cowboys could ride steel horses first entered my head as a boy, there has something about the widescreen barren wastes that has inspired me. It evidently does on “Dirty Money” here too, given the raw nature that a trio always seems to have.
The guitar work of Santos is superb too. The way she effortlessly switches to something darker, as “Somebody To Love” lurks in the shadows. It does, if I may say, seem that lust and not love drives this.
“Fever” swings with some trademark funky bass from Grossi, and there is an urgency in its grooves together with something just a little primal too.
The last of the quartet is yet another masterclass in what modern blues can do. It beats to a rock pulse, but the guitar work is pure. “The Devil take me tonight,” she sings, and you do wonder if Satan knows what he’s up against here.
Three piece bands are so often incredibly well balanced, with no extraneous stuff – and so it is here. And if four track singles always get me nostalgic for the glory days of the format when all my favourite mid to late 90s bands would often save their best stuff for such endeavours, then Susan Santos certainly ticks that box.
However, “The LA Sessions” is trip to the Wild West that is not about nostalgia, but instead adding another high-point to a career that has been full of them.