Gotta love how Boston native / Philly resident singer and songwriter Samantha Stoakes uses what I assume are her childhood photos as the public face of Susie Derkins, an emerging indie rock project. Or if they’re not Stoakes’ own photos, they’re at least of one super ready-for-rock-and-roll kid. Susie Derkins first caught my attention back in January with a short collection of songs and a terrific bio: “ps eliot’s little sister who doesn’t read enough.” As a definite appreciator of P.S. Eliot, that sold me in itself, but Stoakes has great songs that grab your attention in their own right.
The latest from Susie Derkins is self-deprecatingly titled it’s all downhill from here, and its another three songs played solo-electric with ultra-catchy indiepop melodies — the short / sweet “paranoid again :)” opens the set, before dipping back to “Gutless,” a song from Stoakes’ time in Boston that reminds me a lot of early Mirah. It’s a meditation on uncertainty and insecurity, on the nagging feeling that one’s voice doesn’t make a difference: “is it self preservation or self destruction that keeps me quiet / am i learning from my mistakes when i learn not to talk.” Powerful feelings, beautifully conveyed.
“Counting Cards,” a new one written after Stoakes move to Philly, has an understated confidence to it, and sonically parallels Rilo Kiley-era Jenny Lewis enveloped in a low-fi fuzz. About that low-fi thing, though — these are, don’t forget, demos. Susie Derkins might have bigger sonic ambitions once it moves into the full-album, live-band-playing-the-Philly-circuit phase. For right now, though, these home recordings totally hit the spot.
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