Two-time Juno Award nominee Suzie Ungerleider has shared a brand new single, titled ‘Summerbaby’, from her upcoming 10th studio album My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider due out on August 13th, 2021 on MVKA.
Recounting the story of the birth of her daughter, Suzie reveals in poetic form the anxiety she faced due to an early birth, and the relief she felt after her safe arrival, ‘’This tells the story of my gratitude for her miraculous survival. She was due in October but instead arrived three months early, in July, making her a summer baby. She weighed just 2 pounds 12 ounces. A wee frog-like creature who was scrappy from day one. Just hours after she was born, there were dozens of hot air balloons floating outside my window – perfectly symbolic of the elation that I felt. I wrote this song as a birthday gift for her ten years after she was born’’.
‘Summerbaby’ follows the three previous singles ‘Baby Blues’, ‘Mount Royal’, and ‘Pumpkins’, all featuring on her forthcoming album. The record officially opens a new chapter of her already distinguished and highly successful career, being the first release since the artist formerly known as Oh Susanna announced that she would now record and perform under her birth name.
Bursting with trademark evocative melodies and trenchant lyrics, My Name Is Suzie Ungerleider is the tenth solo studio album by the American-born, Canadian-raised artist revered for such landmark records as Johnstown, Sleepy Little Sailor and A Girl in Teen City. Now based once more in her hometown of Vancouver, the album was made with producer Jim Bryson (Kathleen Edwards, Kalle Mattson, Skydiggers), whose assured touch amplifies the atmospheric dreamscapes contained in Suzie’s reflective, intimate songbook.
The decision to say “so long” to her long-time moniker Oh Susanna represents her recognition that the “exciting, dark, funny, charming” character that she thought was Oh Susanna was actually Suzie Ungerleider (pronounced Unger-lye-der) all along. “So here I am, leaving behind the trappings of a persona that gave me the courage to climb up onstage and reveal what is in my heart,” she reflects. “It once protected me, but I need to take it off so I can be all of who I am.”
The name change is both a personal and political decision, fuelled by her realisation that ‘Oh Susanna,’ the Stephen Foster song of 1848, contained racist imagery and a belief system that she wanted no part of. She came to understand its historic associations to Minstrelsy, a tradition both demeaning and dehumanising to black people. Leaving Oh Susanna behind, she’s become her true self with a wonderful record that marks a fresh beginning, a collection of new compositions that refresh and redefine who Suzie Ungerleider is.
The new album is introduced by the characteristically searing ‘Baby Blues,’ a song about how the traumatic events we witness when we’re young can haunt and indeed shape our older selves. It’s a deep subject with an upbeat punchline. “Like ghosts,” she says, “sometimes you just need to just sit with them, feel their power, and, because they feel seen, they release their hold on you for a little while.” Elsewhere, the album depicts an older and wiser artist and mother sometimes writing for her daughter, both at the time of her dramatically premature birth and miraculous survival on the achingly pretty ‘Summerbaby’ and, now a teenager herself, courageously dealing with her own identity on the intimate ‘Hearts,’ on which mountains of blue watch over her.