It’s hard to believe it has been six years since Sylvie Simmons released her debut recordings, Sylvie, after 35 years of critically-acclaimed music journalism. A lot has happened: fascism in the USA, a wee pandemic/mask war, and, for Sylvie, a terrible accident on the first day of recording for Blue on Blue that left her one-handed for quite some time. After multiple surgeries and much rehab, she returns triumphantly to pick up where she left off: in Tucson with her ukulele, Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) & the Gang, plus some very special guests including Jim White (Wrong-Eyed Jesus).
Sylvie’s voice is beautiful and relaxed, even when singing about “dog shit and cigarette ends” as she does on the very first track “Keep Dancing.” There are breathy moments, but her voice is never weak or strained. Howe’s contributions are priceless. He sings a fun duet on the closing track “1000 Years Before I Met You” and provides his signature tinkly piano style all over “Carey’s Song” — tinkling like fingers skipping rapidly up and down the piano — no urine involved (that I know of).
It could only be Howe that suggested hammered bells and the pump organ. On “Not in Love” there are some gorgeous Spanish guitar moments that must be a result of the deep Leonard Cohen connections, and why not?! This is a woman that spent more time with Leonard than many of his lovers. In 2012 she released I’m Your Man — the definitive story of Leonard’s life.
Born in London, Sylvie has lived in San Francisco for many years. She is a local treasure. Her books and magazine articles are essential reading and now she has two excellent records to her name. Her music is subtle and explores a lot of themes — some quite dark — but these are not sad songs. Her music is comforting like a bowl of soup on a rainy day: Really good soup, with a tall glass of whiskey.
Let’s face it, we all need these right now. Buy the record HERE. You will feel better.