Suzanne Cloud's last release, 1995's With A Little Help From My Friends , somewhat distanced while delighting the listener through irony and a liberal political view upon current events. Her current release, Looking Back , draws the listener into her heart.
The recent loss of her husband catalyzed Cloud's spirit into a personal retrospective as she considers through song the stages of her life up to her most recent passage. As a result, Cloud has abandoned for now the mordant wit and has concentrated on personalized expression.
"Joshua," which incidentally isn't based upon the Miles Davis version, recalls Cloud's worries and hopes of motherhood as she was raising her family, son Joshua representing all three of her boys. Cloud's lyrics to "Looking Back," a duo with bassist extraordinaire Tyrone Brown, describe her innocent girlhood aspirations and joys that evolve into sorrow, love and wisdom. On "Two Lost Souls," Cloud sings a Broadway-like duet with her mother, Charlotte Sine, as they bond with familial familiarities and life-as-an-uncharted-highway mutual discovery. "Autumn Leaves," dedicated to Cloud's husband, takes advantage of song's evocation of passage and sadness to express her sense of loss.
Supported by an outstanding group of Philadelphia-based musicians, Looking Back offers varying approaches to Cloud's theme of reminiscence. Denis DeBlasio's "Human Spirit" glides through lyrical imagery slowly developed by a melody that emphasizes suggestive words and phrases sparingly and effectively: "Lilacs in the sunlight...cycles of a lifetime." Similar to Cloud's work on DeBlasio's tune "Tell Me A Story" on his album "Reflections Of Childhood," "Human Spirit" slowly reveals truths through the musical unwinding of emotional fragility and questioning.
Starting out her career as a soprano, Cloud's alto voice now seems to have deepened with perhaps an extension of range. And on Looking Back , she showcases her earlier interest in theatrical music, particularly that of Mary Martin. "Never Never Land" reminds the listener once again of Martin's classic Peter Pan television performance, while "Two Lost Souls" falls in line with Martin's jaunt and spirit.
All of Looking Back is not reminiscence and hurt. "Do I Hear A Waltz?," backed by Jim Miller on drums, scampers with energy and scat singing alternating with lyrics. Cloud continues in ¾ with a swaying interpretation of The Temptations' "Just My Imagination."
Even though Suzanne Cloud is front and center as the conceptual and musical leader on Looking Back , the sympathetic support from many of her friends from With A Little Help From My Friends proves that the title of her last CD was prescient. They provide a lot of help on Looking Back.
Track Listing: Never Never Land; Human Spirit; Do I Hear A Waltz?; Imagine My Frustration; Two Lost Souls; Just My Imagination; Autumn Leaves; Joshua; Looking Back; Maybe Just Maybe
Personnel: Suzanne Cloud, vocals; Jim Miller, drums; Denis DeBlasio, soprano, alto & baritone sax, flute; Jim Ridl, Eddie Green, piano; Darryl Hall, Tyrone Brown, Steve Varner, Mike Boone, bass; Steve Hyde, flugelhorn; Dale DeVoe, trombone; Brian Height, soprano & tenor sax; Julian Pressley, alto sax; Charlotte Sine, vocals http://www.dreamboxmedia.com