Susie Suh has been quoted as saying "I'm not impressed with complex chord changes; I'd rather hear a simple song that expresses an emotion honestly and sincerely." That outlook might seem strange to the type of hell-bent-for-chops musician who wrongly believes that technique is everything, but it's an outlook that serves Suh impressively well on this self-titled debut album. The Korean-American singer/songwriter, who was 25 when this adult alternative/folk-rock disc came out in April 2005, isn't groundbreaking; no one who has spent a lot of time listening to Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan, or Aimee Mann (three of the people she inspires comparisons to) will find Suh to be innovative. But if this album is somewhat derivative, it certainly isn't derivative in a bad way -- and what Suh lacks in originality, she more than makes up for when it comes to craftsmanship and just plain soulfulness. Suh brings a wealth of feeling to her material, and she sings every word like she means it. Her words aren't always happy; introspective offerings like "Petrified to Be God-Like," "Your Battlefield," and "Lucille" have a brooding, world-weary quality -- and much like Mann and Apple, Suh deals with her share of darker emotions. But this CD isn't without its moments of hope; "Harmony" and "Shell" are among Suh's more optimistic songs. One person who serves Suh well on this Epic release is producer Glen Ballard, who gives the disc a clean sound but doesn't over-produce; he favors a more spare approach for Suh and goes for intimacy. The singer/songwriter field is amazingly crowded these days, but Suh is a cut above many of the female singer/songwriters who emerged in the early and mid-2000s and shows considerable promise on her first album.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson