Jan 27, 2023
By Caleb Campbell
Over the past several years, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Susy Sun has quietly carved out a sound full of quiet organic subtleties and inviting depths, offering a dreamy combination of folk, classical, and vintage Laurel Canyon pop. After years of writing music ensconced in her bedroom, she first debuted her songwriting to the wider world with her 2019 LP, The Way The Wind Blows. Earlier last year, we premiered “My Oh My,” one of the singles from Sun’s new sophomore album, On Ivar Hill, and today, she is back with the full record, out everywhere now.
Immediately, one of the record’s most striking characteristics is its warm and welcoming acoustics and intimate analog feel. That warmth and lived-in sound are on full display on the lilting piano balladry and gorgeous classical strings of the opener, “My Oh My.” Here, the track plays like a peaceful Sunday-morning sunrise, an offering full of simple sunny joy shared with an underlying hint of melancholy. From there, Sun takes a resonant tour through the Redwoods with “Sequoia Tree,” and picks up the energy with “Not Your Pawn,” delivering a delightfully biting rejection to a manipulative man.
Elsewhere, Sun’s backing mini-orchestra truly shines on “Thousand Oaks” and “Skipping Stone,” ending the latter track with a standout trumpet solo. In contrast, “Desert Sky” brings out Sun’s country side with some twangy slide guitar and keening pedal steel, and the record closes on the strident slow-burning show-stopper of “You’ve Done Me Wrong.” By its end, Sun covers a sprawling stylistic range in On Ivar Hill, but she also knits it all together with her delicate piano work and magnetic vocal talents, an ever-present combination that feels timeless and moving.
Sun says of the record, “I wrote all of the songs on this record upon Ivar Hill, overlooking Hollywood alongside the endless hum of the 101 freeway. They are a scrapbook of my life during that time. Young, inspired and searching for something. I reflect on a spiritual journey through the Redwoods, the reality of being a woman in the music industry and the difficulties of making friends in a big city. All of the feelings – sadness, dread, fear – and needless to say, love. These songs encapsulate a specific window in my life, but with a timeless feel. A record you can spin without knowing its era.
To capture this feeling I worked hand in hand with producer Jason Soda at his Los Angeles studio, Palomino Sound. We recorded live to tape, in one room as a band. A grand piano from 1912 helped support the classic sound and lofty melodies as we ushered these songs to life…
Later we brought in composer Alexander Rudd to create the enchanted orchestral arrangements and legendary Jay Dee Maness to embellish some tunes with his alluring pedal steel.
I adore the vast sonic landscape that this record explores, yet how honest and raw it feels. I’ve always looked at my songs as little healers, more for myself than anyone else. I go to my piano when I’m feeling downhearted and that’s the way it’s always been. It’s my way of navigating through life. How I soothe my emotions. How I make sense of this world and all its endless ups and downs. I strive for honesty in my music, in the hopes of helping others feel less alone.”
Check out the full record below, out everywhere today.