Home Music Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche: I Can Still Hear You

Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche: I Can Still Hear You

Sometimes change is forced upon you, I Can Still Hear You by Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche was supposed to be recorded in Nashville, but as luck would have it the pandemic struck, and large portions ended up being recorded in lockdown from each woman’s apartment in New York. Despite that, what emerges is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a saga of how a mother and daughter have inspired each other through the years.

Comparing the pandemic to a carousel ride, the opening track “I Can Still Hear You” was written by Wainwright Roche during the initial lockdown. Amidst spare guitars and drums, with piano filling as the song progresses, their singing is designed to give people a level of hope in a time when despair seems a more likely scenario. “Between a few wild rides/ Surrounded on all sides/ I can still hear you.” At the end of the day thoughts like that make a difference.

The vocal spirals of “Ruins” create a beautiful counterpoint to a song dealing with a boy’s innocence and experience of guilt that comes from an act of destruction, stomping a flower to bits. “Why’s a human heart so mean, to do the things that we do, I don’t want to ruin anything,” which is a big question for a small boy. Joining in on the track, Indigo Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers provide harmonies that harken back to Suzzy Roche’s days with her sisters in The Roches. The four voices spiral higher and higher, offering a moment of sheer beauty.

Songs like “I Think I Am a Soul” provide a take on what happens after death. Souls floating above experience the world around them in ways they never thought possible. But, there’s also a sense of restlessness brought on by having to watch over a world that’s alive, experiencing things that these spirits no longer feel.

“Swan (Duck) Song” is a Suzzy Roche composition that changes up the natural order of things. Instead of a duck becoming a swan, the opposite occurs, the swan becomes a duck. Playing with that natural order even further over a bed of guitar and organ, the shifted reality continues as the duck is eventually transformed into a hummingbird. The song closes with mother and daughter recreating bird sounds.

These two women, young and old, seem to be able to turn almost anything into a song, even the tale of Stuart Little. Rather than simply being a cute little number, “Little” is a cheery song with a darker side suggested by the line “Life ain’t nothing but a tragic surprise.” Roche also takes on her back catalog, redoing “Factory Girl” a composition The Roches recorded back in 1980. The collection closes with a song closely associated with Kermit the Frog, “Bein’ Green.” In these turbulent times recording a song that suggests people be ok with what they are is a somewhat radical act. But then the Muppets were always a little more liberal than they let on.

Brought into sharper focus by a world consumed with Covid, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche have created something quite special with I Can Still Hear You. What we can learn from these two women is that even in the darkest moments there’s still hope to be found.

Mother and daughter find reasons to hope during dark times.
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Generational comforts

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