CD Review: Hillary Susz & Tommy Trzcynski

Hillary Susz & Tommy Trzcynski
What Mouths Are Made For
Self Released

Hillary Susz is a singer/songwriter from Spokane and graduate of Western Washington University. With influences such as Neko Case, Lauryn Hill, and Radiohead, she teamed up with producer (who also handled the arrangements/beats) Tommy Trzcynski to make her debut album, What Mouths Are For which also includes a variety of musicians, most notably David Ney (Lumpkins, Pirates R Us), Chad Fox and Bill Jennings (Keaton Collective.)
What Mouths Are Made For features an array of songs that maintain the intimacy of being a singer/songwriter while still creating delicate pop soundscapes over simplistic beats. “Blue Toyota” is a strong example of this; the song is a country-infused pop gem. Susz shows some of the most personality in her voices, reminded us that she was “unmistakably, frankly, drunk.” This track is a stand out on the album.
There’s a tension that exists between Hillary’s voice and the music – sometime this is used to great effect (such as on Greyhound.) Her voice can almost operatic, in the ghostly way it soars over the melodies, but at times she sounds more excited than the subdued background allows. This is apparent in “Blood Laugh (Who the F$ck Are You)” in which Susz sounds more melodramatic than vicious. The track does feature an interesting trumpet underneath it that accentuates some of the vitriol in a nice way.
Susz greatest strength though is her lyrics. It’s impossible to listen to a song like Bible Papers without feeling something, be she talking about Dwight Clark or giving Jesus acid. These songs are stories that demand to be heard.

-Ethan Smith