Here at Riot Towers, we’re big fans of Suzie Ungerleider, better known as Oh Susanna. She’s a superb songwriter who also knows how to pitch the delivery of her songs. In 2019, she celebrated the twentieth birthday of her “Johnstown” album with a remaster and rerelease and it sounds fabulous. For various reasons, we’ve missed her recent UK appearances, but we’ll be making up for that on the next tour, especially if she’s mixing the drinks. Here’s Suzie’s contribution to this year’s High Fives. Cheers!


Top 5 Cocktails you can make very easily at home to impress your friends and get quite drunk.  Beware!


Paper Plane

1 1/2 ounces amaro (preferably Nonino)

1 1/2 ounces Aperol

1 1/2 ounces bourbon

1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice, strained


Whiskey Sour

2 oz Bourbon

3⁄4 oz Fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 oz Simple syrup

1⁄2 oz Egg white (optional)  


Pancho Villa

2½ oz blanco tequila

½ oz Royal Rose Three Chile Simple Syrup

¼ oz Agave Syrup

½ Fresh Lime Juice

2 Dashes of Orange Bitters


Egg Nog

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 shot rum or bourbon (optional)


Old Fashioned

1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 Sugar cube


You can make large batches of these for your holiday parties.

It’s easy to be cynical about the whole remaster/rerelease game – it’s been abused by the music business for so long as a way of making the same material pay its way several times over. And then a 20-year anniversary of something like “Johnstown” comes along with a couple of really good reasons to make the effort. The technical one is that the vinyl release would demand a remaster and the commercial reason is that there are music-lovers that would have completely missed this in 1999 who are blown away by it in 2019; I’m right at the front of that queue.

In common with her autobiographical 2017 album “A Girl in Teen City”, “Johnstown” has a strong sense of place – the scene is set for the twelve stories against a backdrop of a town that has lived for decades with the ominous threat of floods. And just to ramp up the feeling of impending doom, the album opens with a minor-key murder ballad underpinned by distorted and menacing guitar. So that’s just the title song and I’m buying it already.

There genuinely isn’t a mediocre song on the album; they’re all right out of the top drawer and they’re a varied bunch in terms of themes and arrangements; “You’ll Always Be” is a relatively straightforward love song until an edge of shadow is added with a superbly atonal piano solo, while the hauntingly beautiful triple-time ballad “Alabaster” is wrapped in a minimalist arrangement that emphasises the individuality of Susie Ungerleider’s voice and the octave leaps that give the voice its unique quality. And so it goes, right up to the album’s final song, in triple-time again, the gorgeous “Tangled & Wild”, embellished by some keening pedal steel and bringing the album to a gentle close; but not quite.

That’s where the original album ended, but there are a few little surprises in the shape five stripped-back demo-style versions of songs from the album. I’m also cynical about the addition of ‘bonus’ tracks that are added to tempt the completist collector, but the additions here work well and they have all been previously commercially available as an EP. “Johnstown” proves that the song works without the album arrangement and “Alabaster” (which finally closes the album) is perfect as a solo piece. This is an album that I genuinely wish I’d heard twenty years ago and I’m sure I’ll be listening to in another twenty years.

“Johnstown” is released in the UK on Friday August 30th on Continental Song City (CSCCD 1164) and Oh Susanna will be touring the UK in early September.

This has been incredibly difficult to narrow down; these are all albums I’ve reviewed here this year. I got down to nine and then it started to get tough (and I started to worry about offending friends). So there are no apologies for having a few honourable mentions at the end of this piece. As always, in no particular order:

For All Our Sins” – Sound of the Sirens – I’ve been a fan since the first time I saw them. They’ve been building a reputation and a fanbase for a few years now, self-releasing a couple of EPs and an album but this one was backed by a recording deal which meant that Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood were able to move beyond their classic live sound of guitars (and mandolin), foot percussion and stunning harmonies to introduce keyboards, choirs and even a bit of psychedelia. At the album launch party, Jeremy Vine tweeted live footage of Abbe and Hannah and even played the lead track “Smokescreen” on his Radio 2 show the next day. Give it a listen here.

Street Rituals” – Stone Foundation – This is another band that I’ve been following for a few years now and marvelling at the way their talent and work ethic has taken them to the top of the vinyl charts in 2017. This album is the best so far (although “To Find the Spirit” and “A Life Unlimited” are bloody good as well) and having Paul Weller as producer and contributor didn’t do any harm either. The album harks back to the socially-conscious soul albums of the early seventies turned out by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield and has the band pinning their political hearts firmly to their sleeves. And I may have mentioned that they are an absolutely lovely bunch of people.

Gold Rush” – Hannah Aldridge – This is Hannah’s second album; crowd-funded and featuring songs she’s been working and collaborating on with various writers for a few years. How do you categorise Hannah’s music? Well, the easy answer is Americana, but that’s just a marketing tool these days (same as ‘blues’ really, with or without an upper-case B). The last time I interviewed Hannah, she was favouring ‘Southern rock’, hinting at Tom Petty, although this album has a distinct feel of the Stones “Sticky Fingers” on the rock songs. But put the rockers to one side and you have two absolutely beautiful melancholy slow songs, the title track and “Living on Lonely”. Both of those songs are lyrically intense and melodically gorgeous and that’s a combination I can never resist. Hannah’s going to be back in the UK next year; you really should make the effort to go out and see her.

A Girl in Teen City” – Oh Susanna – I loved this album from the very first listen; it’s built around the theme of growing up in Vancouver in the eighties. It’s poetic, it’s melodic and it’s humorous, but most of all it’s human. It’s the story of a real person, Suzie Ungerleider, and her adolescence, with references to the music of the era and so much more; the “American Graffiti” style of “Thunderbird” and the Springsteenesque widescreen of “My Old Vancouver”. Honestly, my words can’t do it justice, you should really listen to it for yourself.

Unfinished Business” – Paul Brady – If you survive as a musician for over fifty years, you’re doing something right. In Paul Brady’s case, he’s doing a lot of things right. He’s still writing superb songs, still picking good covers and he’s still surrounding himself with top-flight musicians who know how to sell a song without overdoing it. This is an album that says ‘if you’re good enough, you’re young enough’. All the experience is there and it all sounds so deceptively effortless. Make some time to listen to it over the holiday.

And those honourable mentions? How about “The Penny Collector” – Carrie Elkin, “Mockingbird Soul” – Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough, “Static in the Wires” – Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro and “Tennessee Night” – Ed Dupas.


Back in May 2017, Allan reviewed “A Girl in Teen City” by Oh Susanna (or Suzie Ungerleider); he loved it. We’re really pleased that Suzie has decided to contribute to our High Fives this year, and that she’s got into the spirit of the feature by naming her five favourite post-gig eateries from Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, BC. We’re much too coy to say whether the album will feature in Allan’s albums of the year.


I love food but gorging before a gig can be awful for singing. You feel like the thing you ate is blocking your throat and smothering all your notes.  So before the show it’s best to keep it light and eat a salad or almonds. So after the show it’s like a reward to go eat yourself silly in the middle of the night. Here are my top five post show delights. 


BBQ Ribs at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack – Atlanta, Georgia



Smoked Meat Sandwich (note: always order “fat” – never lean) from Schwartz’ – Montreal, Quebec



Bubba’s Poutine –  Downtown Kingston, Ontario




Lobster with Ginger and Green onion at New Sky Chinese Restaurant – Toronto, Ontario





Fresh Warm Glazed donut from Lee’s Donuts – Granville Island Market in Vancouver, BC (after staying up all night and getting there at 7:30 am when they open) …best consumed with coffee from JJ Bean.