Susanna Hoffs – singer/songwriter/musician and founding member of the Bangles – returns with a new solo album, Someday, on July 17. Produced and orchestrated by the revered Mitchell Froom, it’s an intensely personal song cycle that doubles as a musical love letter to the music of the 1960s, which “has always been my reference point for everything,” says Susanna. The self-released work will be distributed by Welk Music Group.
Los Angeles fans got a preview of Someday when Susanna played two solo shows at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica on April 28. The set included new songs, Bangles hits, and some of her favorite covers.
“This album was inspired by my yearning to sing songs that were as melodic and emotional as my favorite music of the 1960s,” Susanna says. “We recorded ten original songs, eight of which I wrote in a flurry over a period of a few months with Andrew Brassell. He’s a 27-year-old musician from Nashville, who’s been on the indie club scene there since he was a teenager. So the project started with me, this talented boy from Nashville, two guitars and a reverb pedal.”
Someday’s tracks include the summery groove of “This Is the Place,” the evocative “November Sun” and the lilting “Picture Me,” with its Bacharach-style sophistication, lush retro arrangements and modern state-of-the-art production enclose Hoffs’ one-of-a-kind voice in an aural tapestry of velvet and lace. SOMEDAY also features updates of two older songs. One of them is “Raining,” which Susanna wrote with Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers back in 1989. “I rediscovered an old cassette of it in a box, and Brassell and I did a rewrite of it to bring it up to date,” she says. “And then there was ‘November Sun,’ a song I’d been carrying in my pocket since 1998. The melody was so natural to sing, and it had a baroque folk/pop style that ended up becoming the template for the rest of the album.”
Froom (known for producing such diverse artists as Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney, Suzanne Vega, Crowded House, Randy Newman, Indigo Girls, Los Lobos and Bonnie Raitt) first met Hoffs when he played the signature keyboard riff on the Bangles’ “Manic Monday” in 1986. After hearing Hoffs perform the new songs on acoustic guitar at his home studio, Froom enthusiastically signed on to produce Someday.
In addition to his behind the scenes magic, Froom played keyboards throughout the recording. Additional musicians include Elvis Costello’s Imposters rhythm section–drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragher–who played on the album’s initial sessions in June of 2011, with Val McCallum and Brassell playing guitar. A few of the songs were tracked with Michael Urbano on drums and Bob Glaub on bass.
Beyond her ongoing work with the Bangles (which Susanna formed with Vicki and Debbi Peterson more than 30 years ago), Hoffs has collaborated with a variety of musicians. They include writing and recording with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, blending her voice with those of Jenny Lewis and Chris Robinson on Gary Louris’ 2008 LP Vagabonds, singing on David Byrne’s “Wild Wild Life,” and covering Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” (inspired by Nico’s recording of the song on Chelsea Girls) and the Velvets’ “I’ll Be Your Mirror” on the Rainy Day album, produced by David Roback (who went on to form Mazzy Star), and most recently an enduring collaboration with indie pop icon Matthew Sweet on their Under the Covers series.