There’s irrefutable artistry on display from the moment Suzanne’s Band’s latest release, the nine-track LP Ice & Fire, begins. Utilizing a stripped-down, classic blues riff fueled by nothing but acoustic guitar and vocals in the opening seconds of album opener “Back To Brown,” there’s clear and concise attention to detail from the band, placed front and center from the jump. The ensemble comes in a few seconds later and further elevates the riff into a bombastic presentation for the rest of the group to play off of, and by the time the song comes to a close, there’s no denying the keen sense for blues and rock ’n’ roll that Suzanne’s Band proudly inhibits.
Opening up the floor to more ethereal and emotionally-fueled ballads, “Indio” comes next. A classic tale is told through the interwoven lyrics from Suzanne’s Band’s very own Mia Suzanne Walker, and the chorus is greatly punctuated by beautiful harmonies that mesh perfectly with the instrumental footing that the rest of the band provides. Maintaining an upbeat pace more in line with Ice & Fire’s first track, “Kick It To The Curb” provides a good dose of levity in comparison — a fairly light offering, “Kick It…” focuses wholeheartedly on its fun chorus and catchy versatility. “By The Bayou” finds a tight balance between the aforementioned ballads and lighter fare that has preceded it by giving listeners a narrative-driven piece of lyricism tinged with a bittersweet yearning for days gone by. The tonal stability gives “Bayou” the edge it needs to be a memorable highlight from the album, and the song works in part as the emotional glue necessary to hold the first and second halves of the project together.
Ice & Fire continues full speed ahead with “Night Blues,” a structurally meta dance hit that will unquestionably become a staple at Suzanne’s Band’s live shows, and the eponymous track “Ice and Fire,” which functions as a chillingly cool piece of music fit for Tarantino as it drips with desire in its inspired Southern and Spanish-guitar stylings. “Reach You” pivots into piano ballad territory, which was a bold choice; allowing the album to be carried by guitars and classic rock compositions thus far, “Reach You” could very well have fallen flat. Suzanne’s Band seems well aware of the risks of delving into earnestness and raises expectations for the remaining third of the album by fully landing this piano ballad-shaped plane without so much as a scratch. “Reach You” not only fully works within the scope of Ice & Fire, but it raises the album’s credibility substantially with its tenderness and open-hearted vulnerability.
As the album comes to a close, “Something Else” doubles down on the ballad motif but keeps things a tad more upbeat; the melancholy underbelly ever permeates, but the uplifting message of overcoming fears and doubts proudly wins out the sulking possibilities another ballad could otherwise pose. Finally, “Can’t Keep Me Down” arrives on the scene in full funky fashion, returning to the party-driven mindset that the album had been missing for a few tracks. The contrast against the slower, softer-spoken songs that precede the album’s finale does wonders for the victory lap that this ninth track takes listeners on. Ice & Fire manages to tell an entire emotional arc within its mere thirty minutes, and by the end of it, listeners are left breathless and hungry for more. Ice & Fire is a resounding success of a release and audiences will assuredly gel with all the album and Suzanne’s Band have to offer.