Archive for the Susan Cowsill Category

ReviewShine Wednesday: Susan Cowsill and The Cassandras (revisited)

Posted in Susan Cowsill, The Cassandras on April 21, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Those of you who already know of Susan Cowsill probably know her from her younger days when she was a member of the bubble gum pop outfit, The Cowsills, with the rest of her family. Susan is the kid sister in this video from The Johnny Cash Show.

The Cowsills were very popular in the latter half of the 1960’s, producing two singles (“The Rain, The Park, and Other Things” & “Hair”) that climbed to #2 on the Billboard Charts. The Cowsills also served as the inspiration for television’s The Partridge Family in the 1970’s. In recent years, however, Susan Cowsill has reinvented herself as a rootsy singer/songwriter. In May, she will release her second solo album, a strong effort called Lighthouse.

In the five years since the release of her previous album, Susan has experienced a lot. Her adopted home of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, claiming the life of her brother Barry Cowsill in the process. Another brother, Billy Cowsill, passed in 2006 after a prolonged illness. The losses of her city and her family inform many of the songs on this album.

Lighthouse is heavily rooted in a sense of place with many of the narratives taking place in Gulf Coast region and New Orleans in particular. In the original song, “ONOLA,” Susan refers to leaving the city she calls her “mother” but pledges to return someday. The chorus of The New Orleans Saints’ theme song “Who Dat?” that is worked into the album closing “Crescent City Sneaux” may be a bit over the top, but it serves as a triumphant and joyous announcement of the return of her city. Her subdued cover of Jimmy Webb’s classic “Galveston” is a much more sombre tribute to another Gulf Coast town.

The song I’m sharing here is also a cover. It’s a tune written by Susan’s late brother Barry called “River of Love.” She is joined by her remaining brothers Bob, Paul, and John in a loving (and rocking) tribute to their fallen sibling.

Susan Cowsill: River of Love (Buy Album)

Last week in this space, I featured a duo from Chicago called The Cassandras. I didn’t know much (if anything) about them then, but thanks to an email from band member Kara Hetz, I have a bit more info now. I feel I owe it to The Cassandras to share it with you.

Kara makes up one half of The Cassandras with Brandon Harvey accounting for the other. The two met in Chicago in the early part of this past decade when both enrolled in a songwriting class at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. They found themselves paired together for a class assignment, liked the way they sounded, and decided to continue playing.
Well, I like the way they sound together too. Their debut album Starter is full of gentle folk harmonies wrapped around acoustic pop hooks to form a truly accessible sound. Kara and Brandon each perform lead and harmony vocal duties with specific duties shifting from track to track. That’s fitting since they each wrote half of the songs on the album. I shared one of Kara’s songs last week… here’s one from Brandon so you can get a feel for both sides of the band’s sound.
The Cassandras: Unquiet (Buy Album)