With enough experience to be called veterans, Rob and Susan Suraci have released their first album, Then And Now. While regulars at Toast & Jam Coffeehouse (where the CD release party will be held on December 13) and other open mic opportunities, the songs on this album are full arrangements unlike the vocal and guitar versions you may have heard at live perfomances. With very few exceptions, all the instruments on the album were played by Rob or Susan. As the songs were recorded and mixed in their home, there is a very organic and comfortable feel to these ten tracks that focus on the various stages of relationships. Susan sings lead on most of the songs and her strong, full voice which bears more than a nod of resemblance to Carol King lends to the undeniable yet appealing seventies feel of the album. Yes, intentional or not, this album could easily have been birthed in the days before disco and listening to it now is like unearthing an overlooked, nostalgic gem from the past.
The album opens with "Smart", the tale of Joan who finally gets "smart", packs up the kids, and leaves her abusive husband, all with a bouncy, jamaca-influenced chorus. "Pink" finds the couple experimenting with some of the more esoteric sounds on their drum machine with a song that sounds like a cool summer evening. With a male view of the seven-year itch, "The Park" showcases Rob's vocals and guitar stylings against a Mersey-Beat chorus. Another album highlight is the bittersweet "Tommy" which boasts some really emotive vocals (and vocal harmonies) from Susan that at times have to fight with the guitars to be heard. "Cotton Candy" is a charming ode to flirting, with this addictive pastime being compared to the sweet, sugary treat. The final track, "Dumb Town", is not about Fort Wayne but rather is about recognizing your own shortcomings, all with a smoky melody, church organs, and a great bass line. With top-notch songwriting, expert musicianship and lyrics written for intelligent adults, this CD contains some of the best material I've heard come out of Fort Wayne in a long time. Visit the Flying Suraci web site at www.flyingsuraci.cjb.net for more album information.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, December 2001.