Expect lush lyrics and a sultry and rockin' atmosphere when Suzanne Santo comes around.
Expect lush lyrics and a sultry and rockin' atmosphere when Suzanne Santo comes around. The last time she was through Taos was with her duo Honeyhoney, a gig she's been part of for more than a decade with Ben Jaffe. For the past few years, she has taken a hiatus from that project and struck out on her own, independently exploring her style and creativity. Santo, 34, has been touring with original material since releasing her solo album "Ruby Red" and she just finished up a European tour.
Santo brings her band, and some of her newest material, to Taos for a show this Sunday (Oct. 27) at 7 p.m. at Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership. Singer-songwriter Izzi Ray (who also plays bass for Santo) will open the show.
Although Santo told me she was terrified when she decided to launch out on her own, she soon found it to be exhilarating. After "Ruby Red" was released, Santo said she felt a newfound artistic freedom. At the same time, it gave her a deeper appreciation for the special bond she had formed with Jaffe.
"When I became a singular entity … I was really surprised at what I was capable of - in the studio, in production and in writing. I feel a lot of gratitude for that space that was created, but also reverence for how powerful it was when I was working with Ben all the time. It's sort of a double-edged sentiment."
Based in Los Angeles, Santo grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio, suburbs where she received a thorough education in music through the public schools she attended. She played violin for her school orchestra and sang in the chorus. Her chorus teacher recognized her talent and encouraged Santo by giving her solo parts to sing for their recitals.
Santo has recently been back in the studio to work on a new record she is producing with John Spiker. When she told me about it Santo gushed with excitement, and said she thinks it is her best work to date.
It doesn't have a name, yet, but Santo jokingly said she was thinking of calling it, "Yard Sale" because it has "something for everybody."
"It's a real menagerie," Santo told me. She added that her new record, which is expected out this spring, will include rock, punk, gospel and more.
"It's a culmination of where I've been in the past year or two," Santo said. "There's a common thread in terms of emotion. It's a little softer and happier than 'Ruby Red' … but still rock 'n' roll."
Joining Santo for her Taos show are her bandmates Ray on bass, Blaine Stark on guitar and Paul Doyle on drums. Ray, who is in her early 20s, is also opening the show with her own songs.
Ray has already released three albums to date: "Izzi Ray" (2012), "Make Much of You" (2014) and "Liminality" (2017). She is inspired by an eclectic mix of musicians from Kendrick Lamar, Kimbra and Radiohead to Jeff Buckley, Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris. Santo said when she first heard Ray's album "Liminality" she was "blown away by the writing and her voice."
Tickets are $12 day of show, and $10 in advance at taosmesabrewing.com. For more information, visit suzannesanto.com and izziray.com.
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