First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2007, Volume 14, #12
Written by Matt Parish
Sun December 9, 2007, 08:45 AM CST
Previously, Suzy Bogguss brought to mind the image of a talented singer/songwriter, complete with dimples and denim skirts. A consummate performer, she has accumulated enough awards and industry accolades to place her consistently and comfortably at the top of the country charts. Now that the recording industry once again has embraced country music’s meteoric rise in popularity, it would have been easy for Bogguss simply to churn out a cookie-cutter album and enjoy the response of her enormous and welcoming fan base.
Bogguss, however, is so much more than dimples and denim, and with the release of her latest outing Sweet Danger, she has risked a bevy of chiropractic lawsuits from all of the heads she has turned. Sweet Danger is all about departures, leaving a place where one is comfortable but not necessarily happy. It is also so drastic a divergence from her previous efforts that advance copies were sent with a label that read, "This music is not what you expect! Listen with an open mind."
Following the critically acclaimed Swing, Bogguss’ first foray into improvisational music, Sweet Danger is a natural progression of her sound. It is a rainy-day jazz album that contains more pockets than a Chicago pool hall. The Bus Ride opens this glorious record by telling the tale of a young girl who is heading toward the horizon, where her new destiny lies. No Good Way to Go lists a litany of ways to leave a lover behind, though it also reveals its open wounds by realizing that any band-aid removal, no matter how clever or quick, is bound to hurt. Bogguss even covers Chicago’s If You Leave Me Now, and her rendition actually outshines the original by sounding like the heartfelt and moving reply that could have come from the other end of Peter Cetera’s phone.
And so the journey continues on this clever and introspective release, as each song tells a story of parting, some of which are more sudden than others. With its plea to accept and bless a newfound love, which is sung from the perspective of a loved one who has passed to the partner who was left behind, In Heaven is particularly crushing.
Throughout Sweet Danger, there are rays of country sunshine that poke through the darkness, such as on the songs Baby July and Chain Lover. On the latter cut, the "smoking" metaphor is used in equal amounts of humor and sensuality. Yet, the cloud cover is never far from sight. As it reappears, Bogguss’ world once again seems as blue as the album’s cover, on which she is seen standing with an umbrella in hand, her future unknown. It’s Not Gonna Happen Today is about the self-reflection that lurks inside that purgatory that a person experiences when love departs. It speaks emotionally and literally of what should be done to clean one’s closet in order to make room for whomever or whatever is next. This is a soul-searching piece with no resolve. Its hauntingly sparse keyboards leave room for the rain and tears to fall in between the song’s chords.
Sweet Danger’s title track, which is about taking a chance on a stranger, leaves prudence, rather than a person or a place, behind. "Here’s my disclaimer," Bogguss sings. "I’m throwing caution to the wind." Her declaration would have served as a better "warning label" for the effort, and by following her own proclamation, Bogguss’ musical exploration has produced one of the year’s best records.
Sweet Danger is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box