Susan Cowsill still sounds a bit surprised by the overwhelmingly warm welcome she received at the recent Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn.
Thats not surprising considering Cowsill is one of those artists who creates music loved by many but isnt neatly categorized. Her latest album, Lighthouse released this past spring is full of songs that stir blues, folk, rock, roots and more in to a lush musical flavor.
Our gig was awesome, Cowsill said about of the standing-room- only showcase she and her band played. Americana to me is just this roots music, at least thats what they used to call it. Its rock, its country, its story- telling and organic, and Im starting to really get an understanding of what it is. Basically, were all mutts.
If thats true, Cowsill is a mutt in name only. Her miles-long musical pedigree includes her much-loved and -lauded work with the family band the Cowsills, 10 years as a member of the rockers the Continental Drifters, and her own solo career.
With the release of Lighthouse, Cowsill planted herself even more fully in the Bonnie Raitt-meets-Sandy Denny wheelhouse thanks to her rich, vibrant vocals. Doubt it? Listen to Cowsills rendition of the Denny classic Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
Its no surprise that such guests as Jackson Browne (an old family friends of the Cowsills), Waddy Wachtel (another old family friend who produced past albums for the Cowsills) and Lucinda Williams have readily agreed to jump in on Cowsills albums.
As a reviewer for Huffington Post noted about Lighthouse, it is an example of songwriting at its best where every song is a highlight.
One reason for the well-deserved praise is that Cowsills songwriting is fearless as she paints vivid portraits of life warts and all. Many of her latest tales surround the near-destruction and eventual rebirth of her beloved adopted hometown New Orleans.
Unlike many artists who began their careers in childhood, Cowsill embraces her past. Thats what happened when Cowsill recorded River of Love, written by her brother Barry, who died in Hurricane Katrina.
It was sweet to have that reunion, Cowsill said about working with Wachtel and her brothers John, Paul and Bob on the song now on Lighthouse. Ive known him since I was 5. I had to have him come down and play on Barrys song. And I had to have my brothers.