Bands to Watch #361: Suzie Stapleton

By on Friday, 30th October 2015 at 12:00 pm

Header photo by David Fathi

Really distinctive female singing voices are hard to come by of late, with mainstream singers all trying to affect the artfully hoarse quality of Adele or the girlishly singsong tones of Taylor Swift, while garage rock girl bands seem to have adopted a collective monotonous drone. Even outside the mainstream pop realm, it’s quite rare to hear a female vocalist with the authentic emotionality and unique vocal timbre of Australian blues rock singer/songwriter Suzie Stapleton. Her low, sensual alto alternates between a brittle whisper and raw throaty power, finding every dynamic shade in between to articulate the meanings between the lines of her starkly realistic lyrics.

The five songs on Stapleton’s 2012 EP ‘Obladi Diablo’ are of the tough, gritty traditional blues rock variety and like her singing voice, Stapleton’s guitar style is unscathed by the current mainstream trend of watered down blues rock. The EP’s lead single ‘My Cons are Making a Cripple Out of Me’ is shadowy and evocative, with the wail of overdriven guitars matching the rough-hewn quality of Stapleton’s vocal delivery. Later track ‘Hit’ is similarly dark, both musically and lyrically, the guitars creating a murky background as Stapleton sings the dazed lines “take me down where the air is like wine / the dive is divine / drag me down / I’m hanging on the line”. The repeated refrain “I get hit” grows into a scorching guitar bridge ahead of the intensely bitter closing line “I take the bait every time”.


Stapleton channels fire and brimstone in standout track ‘Song of the Artesian Water’, whose lyrics are adapted from a poem by Australian writer Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson: “if the Lord won’t send us water / oh, we’ll get it from the devil / yes, we’ll get it from the devil deeper down”. Stapleton chooses to focus her lyrical interpretation on the repeated phrase “deeper down” as she digs into her own emotional wellspring for a gut-wrenching vocal delivery.

While touring in support of ‘Obladi Diablo’ in 2013, Stapleton garnered the attention of roots musician and producer Cypress Grove, who asked her to perform on the third installment of his Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project titled ‘Axels & Sockets’. That album was released in May of 2014 and included established artists Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey and Debbie Harry, among others. Stapleton contributed her signature husky vocals on two tracks from the record, including first single ‘Constant Limbo (Constant Rain)’; listen for her around the 4-minute mark.


This year has found Stapleton on tour throughout Europe and in the UK, including summer support slots for Mick Harvey and more recent autumn dates opening for Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind. She has recently relocated to London to begin work on her debut full length recording. Her EP ‘Obladi Diablo’ was released via French label Beast Records and is available digitally on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

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