Much can be said about the life, travels and career path of Erika Stucky, but one can learn a great deal about the identity of this woman by simply listening to her album Suicidal Yodels.    In the opening seconds of the first track the artist reveals herself to be a complex and well informed interpretive musician, incorporating elements of bluegrass, electronic music and the introduction to her highly impressive vocal ability.  Her version of Bob Dylan’s All I Really Want To Do strongly claims the lyrics as her own to be shared with anyone simply trying to navigate the world of 21st century relationships, while fully respecting and evoking the style of vocal delivery  invented by Dylan, at the same time accompanying herself with rhythmic yelps.

Dylan’s lyrics are allowed to reverberate during the next two selections, the eponymous Z Stuckish and Der Jules, “instrumentals” in which the lead instrument is the voice, careening over tribal rhythms in the former and bringing a Swiss “up home” feeling to the accordion driven third cut in which the yodelling to come is hinted at.   Gazoline-Polka, a collaboration with The Young Gods, is an Alpine blues which reminds us that from America’s Deep South to the chilly mountain tops of Switzerland, a Gazoline gal can moan with the blues, even when friends are nearby to lend handclaps & supportive shouts.  The blues continue and the suicidal yodelling sets in on Stucky’s original composition Do Like The Good Woman Do, which calls to mind early American blues divas such as Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, and her version of Blueberry Hill further serves to establish her authority in this realm.

Anyone wondering why a yodel may be suicidal need only listen to the aching Philomene; the vocals ooze with sorrow, thankfully transformed into another beautiful wordless song.    Cowgirl Prayer is Americana at its most Alpine and anyone who has ever shivered can relate to Slow Snow, even though the lush choral call and response could be sung by a desert choir.  The resolute heartbreak of I Can’t Compete brings the album to an emotional and musical climax and Erika Stucky’s cover version of Willie Nelson’s Crazy is the perfect denouement.  The melancholy of this album is at all times imbued with a reminder that the power of music can overcome and transform the blues, the suicidal yodel, into a joyous experience for both the artist and the listener.  Erika Stucky has drawn on her American and Swiss experiences and her world travels to encapsulate a universally appealing listening experience in this well rounded collection of material which reminds us that sorrow and joy are flipsides of the same coin.

Reviewed by Paula Henderson

Discover more about Erika Stucky here

Buy the CD here or Download the tracks here