Marshfield singer-songwriter Susannah Clifford Blachly’s “solo CDs” are never really solo flights. On her first three recordings, Blachly enlisted a talented mob of central Vermont musical friends and cohorts to join her on a wide variety of original acoustic music. Her new recording, All the Colors, provides more of the same, and includes many familiar names, including Blachly’s longtime singing partners Lewis Franco and Patti Casey, ubiquitous producer, musician and studio master Colin McCaffrey, and stringman/co-composer George White. White was a bandmate in Blachly’s last musical combo, Wagtail.
Her compositions have recurring themes and textures. Blachly’s ongoing love affair with the five-string banjo has resulted in a number of compositions with a “bum-titty” Appalachian groove. Of the 13 originals here, “Bache Alone,” “Won’t Be Long” (both cowritten with White), “Canyon Dream” and the title track all have that Southern mountain feel.
Blachly is also known for composing insightful songs about family and interpersonal relationships, and about how they change over time. Some half-dozen songs, including “It All Goes By,” “Reach for the Stars” and “Broken Girls,” are part sweet lullabye and part earnest therapy session. “Morning Prayer” also includes a sweet duet with Franco that recalls “Another Day,” the marvelous Blachly composition on her 2007 release, Come on Home.
One of my favorites from the new collection is the final track, the hymnlike “Hope Begins in the Dark.” The song features a heavenly pairing of Blachly’s beautiful voice and that of her niece, India Laughlin. McCaffrey and Jeremiah McLane provide gentle backup on piano and cello, respectively. The tune showcases Blachly’s ability to write and perform a real gem.
She’ll be appearing with many of the musicians who guested on All the Colors at a CD release concert this Friday, October 29, at the Bethany Church in Montpelier.