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Damion Suomi - Damion Suomi Album Cover

Damion Suomi - Damion Suomi

Reviewed by
8.5
Damion Suomi - Self-Titled
Record Label: P is for Panda
Release Date: March 25, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Damion Suomi's debut album Self-Titled is far from complicated. Over the course of 10 songs, he spins yarns about drinking, love lost, redemption and traveling. Not exactly original or heady territory. Moreover, most of the songs are structured rather simply and are centered around his voice and his acoustic guitar. A violin jumps into the fray once in awhile, as does a trumpet and on a select few songs, a rhythm section is added, as well as an electric guitar, a piano and keys. The production by Matt Malpass is bare-bones and minimum. And somehow, perhaps divinely, this disc is an absolute goldmine.

Whether it's the utterly profane and startlingly candid hook-up song "What a Wonderful Game," or the reconciliatory ode to boredom "Sunday Night," there is a clarity and conviction to his words and message that is both unrivaled and impossible to mimic. When he does aim to make a point, as on "Darwin, Jesus, The Devil and Me," it's neither cliched or sugar-coated when he sings, "Go on and take more than you need, all your sins have been washed clean, you're only human, you're only human, boy."

Stylistically the songs are spartan folk songs that vary only mildly. Opener "Archer Woman" is piercing and soaring, as it swims through roots-rock territory, with him singing, "My archer woman shot me down...don't let her see me cry." Backed by a rollicking rhythm section and a touch of electric guitar, it's as welcoming and warm as one could hope for, even if the song deals with a broken relationship. His voice seems to be a mix between Michael Stipe and Atlanta native Josh Joplin and is warm, supple and brimming with raw emotion. When he does kick up the tempo, as on the aforementioned "Darwin, Jesus, The Devil and Me," and the straightforward "Save Your Ass," he sounds wholly comfortable and in the pocket.

If there's any reservations after listening, it's that there aren't more songs like those two. There's an energy and a delight in listening to the songs bounce and strut that seems to work rather well. That does not dismiss the shuffling "San Francisco," or the toe-tapping "Ghost," by any stretch. In fact, "San Francisco" features a delicate set of lines about tenacity in the face of adversity, “I gotta sing. I gotta shout. This world is tough. Boy, you should know if you love something let it go."

While he certainly seems to favor songs and themes about alcohol, there's still an assuredness and a charisma that leaps out of the speakers from the very first note. Inspired by Irish culture and bar drunk poetry, he set out to recreate that sentiment, writing songs birthed from time spent in pubs, downing drinks and lousing up romances. After years spent fronting local rock/pop bands, he took to his native Florida and began performing sets of classic Irish folk songs, Irish drinking songs and his own material to wide acclaim.

That time spent on the road has certainly served him well. There is something deeply resonant about these 10 songs and something wholly captivating about listening to them. There aren't many singer/songwriters who can sound so hopeful, candid and poignant while at the same time sounding drunk, hopeless and wreckless. That he can do such things in just 10 songs is something to cherish. These timeless tales are simple yet stunning, making for a beautifully intricate maelstrom of emotion and melody. The real clincher though is that on an album adorned with simple, intricate melodies, Suomi manages to say and do quite a lot with very little. Few singer/songwriters ever make this strong an impression the first time out.

Recommended If You Like Michael Stipe's voice, Billy Bragg, AA Bondy, Josh Joplin, Damien Jurado, Dustin Kensrue's Please Come Home, The Snake The Cross The Crown


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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 20
06:51 AM on 03/19/09
#2
arcarsination
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Wow never heard of this guy before this awesome review. His voice reminds me of someone in particular, but I can't think of who it is. Anyhoo, the whole album is up for stream here, and it's only 5 bucks to download the mp3s. Sweetness. Thanks Gregory.
07:13 AM on 03/19/09
#3
ddb43
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So far this shit is really catchy! Nice review.
07:37 AM on 03/19/09
#4
reid
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this has been one of the most played albums on my ipod since i got it. just saw Damion play last weekend in orlando, and he was awesome live.
07:46 AM on 03/19/09
#5
Gregory Robson
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this has been one of the most played albums on my ipod since i got it. just saw zach play last weekend in orlando, and he was awesome live.
Zach!?
07:47 AM on 03/19/09
#6
reid
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haha oops, i meant damion. that's what happens when i try to work while i read AP!
07:54 AM on 03/19/09
#7
Steve Henderson
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Nice review, brother.
07:59 AM on 03/19/09
#8
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Thank you, sir. I much appreciate it!
08:04 AM on 03/19/09
#9
whyte39
www.alexwhyte.com
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i'm really enjoying this
11:08 AM on 03/19/09
NathanJohn
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This album is really good. I am seeing him play in Norman, Ok next monday should be a solid time of great music and drinking!
11:17 AM on 03/19/09
The Coalition
... is not 8.
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Phenomenal album.
01:48 PM on 03/19/09
latessagata
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Wow never heard of this guy before this awesome review. His voice reminds me of someone in particular, but I can't think of who it is. Anyhoo, the whole album is up for stream here, and it's only 5 bucks to download the mp3s. Sweetness. Thanks Gregory.
could the voice be adam duritz? i get a counting crows vibe from him

Edit: I kinda take it back. I said it after only the first song.
02:01 PM on 03/19/09
AbsoluteMike
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Great guy and great song writter, he played guitar on the last song on my bands album (its like love)
02:08 PM on 03/19/09
AbsoluteMike
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this guy is amazing. great song writter, he played acoustic guitar on the last track of my band's album, It's Like Love.
02:10 PM on 03/19/09
oddwithoutend
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The review made me think of Elliott Smith. Would you say there are similarities? I haven't listened to this yet.

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