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Genres You Will Love
Moods: Solo Female Artist Folk: Singer/Songwriter Folk: Modern Folk Folk: Folk Pop Moods: Type: Vocal

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CANADA - Nova Scotia Canada

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Susan Crowe

Susan Crowe is well-aquainted—as a songwriter, and in general—with the many paradoxes and ironies life presents. She came to music early (Hanks Snow and Williams were in heavy rotation, along with 1920s ballads, and her uncle’s way of playing a guitar laid flat on his lap in an open tuning) but came to a career in music late (at the end of her thirties she recorded an album of songs for her family, which resulted in a deal with Festival Distribution, and a Juno Award nomination. And now, almost three decades into that career—one studded with more nominations and wins, mainstage appearances at folk festivals across Canada and abroad, critical acclaim, and fans from coast to coast and beyond—Crowe feels she’s arrived at her moment, and not a moment too soon. “Time shapes you in a way,” she says, “you become fully formed when you're falling apart. I couldn't write in my thirties the way I'm writing now. I couldn't write in my twenties the way I'm writing now. It's not to say I'm better now, but I feel stronger.”

As a songwriter, Crowe has always found solid footing on shifting ground, with songs preoccupied with being an outsider, loss, sadness, and yes, those ironies and paradoxes of life as a keen observer of love, human nature, and the difficult gifts we sometimes inherit. That hasn’t changed with this new suite of songs (more shifting ground: the music industry. Crowe is releasing her new work straight to digital, a song at a time), unless it is to deepen. Crowe’s not interested in writing about her kids (she doesn’t have any) or looking for love (she’s more interested in its various layers) or in trying to write the elusive pop hit. “I want to write about what’s happening physically to all of us,” she says, leaning in. “The thing I’ve been working on lately: My hands have lost the might that once pushed night against the wall/All I know is I don’t know very much at all/I’m like winter without wood to burn.” We’re all beautiful when we’re young, Crowe notes, “but this is much more interesting. It’s writing for my time of life.”

The freedom she feels now, to write exactly what she wants and needs to write, still carries with it certain responsibilities. “As a writer I have to have the courage to deliver ambiguity,” she says. “It allows listeners to translate it into their own words. And the other challenge is to make it real without constantly being autobiographical.”

Crowe aims to write every song as if it’s her last. Every word, every line, every verse has to count. “It's like taking a watch apart, or being given the parts and having to put them together to make a time piece. Anything that shouldn't be there won't work, anything that should be there and is not, it won't work. So it's making jewellery all the time, without sacrificing the soul of it. It can't just be shiny—and I'm a crow,” she says.

Ultimately, Crowe’s work is about connection, whether she’s writing, performing, recording, or mentoring young songwriters—something she does as often as she can. “We need to make way for the young and swiftly moving and not to try to hang on to something when that part of it is no longer ours. I stand on someone's shoulders, someone can stand on my shoulders. Narrow as they may be, there's still something to be learned, something to be seen.”