The Blackeyed Susans

Mouth to Mouth

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The biggest change to the Susans here is the departures of McComb, Lee, and Ellis. One song, the lovely, string-accompanied "By Your Hand," has a McComb writing credit, while Lee adds some nice steel guitar at the album's end, but otherwise, none of the three have anything to do with Mouth to Mouth. Snarski is still the passionately crooning lead singer, though, while Kakulas keeps a general eye on all proceedings, co-writing with Snarski for the first time on most of the songs. Almost ten guest performers crop up throughout the recording, ranging from sax players to cellists, fleshing out the country/cabaret drama of the songs to generally fine effect (one distinct exception to the overall sound is "I Need You," with only Snarski and Kakulas performing on acoustic guitar). The late-night-in-the-club feeling of "Let's Live" benefits from the sometimes campy string performance, while the backing vocals from Kathryn Wemyss on "Mary Mac"adds to the jaunty feeling of the piece, even if the lyrics are unsurprisingly not quite as easygoing as the music. New drummer Davis brings a more forceful punch to his instrument, though the production in general on Mouth tends to favor upfront/louder performances rather than soft ones. The songs themselves have a slightly more positive bent than on All Souls Alive, at least at points, usually focusing on emotionally intense scenarios. "She Breathes In" paints a close, intimate picture of two lovers in bed, while the title track and "The Shadow of Her Smile" detail similarly close situations. Things are hardly always sweetness and light, though -- the downbeat "I Can't Find Your Pulse" says it all in the song title, while the Kakulas-sung "Hey Buddy" depicts a miserable wartime scenario, the martial roll of the drums punching like cannon fire. "The End of the Line" appropriately ends Mouth to Mouth on a soft note, a nice lazy little love song to wrap it up.

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