Reviews of Susanna “Flower of Evil”

Susanna Wallumrød, for the uninitiated, is one of the most incredible voices you will ever hear. The Norwegian sings in whispered jazz passages with a shimmering velvet that lays a cloak over everything, leaving you in a world filled only by her voice. With Flower Of Evil she continues her affectionate affair with classic rock cover versionsby the likes of Thin Lizzy, Nico, Sabbath and Lou Reed. She is joined on the album by Will Oldham for a pair of devastatingly good duets. The wistful duo lend a transcendent quality to the classic “Without You” and the brilliant, piano led “Jailbreak”, which evokes more than a little of the spirit of Tori Amos. For all the brilliance of the 10 covers on display here, Wallumrød´s two original contributions stand up to anything else, the haunting “Wild Is The Will” being the highlight. The mark of a great cover is when the listener believes the song to be an original, and anyone who has beed sealed in a box for the last 30 years would believe they had stumbled on one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK)

The Decision to record a covers album can suggest a failure of imagination. Not so with Norway´s Susanna Wallumrød. Joined by The Magical Orchestra, she produced astonishing torch versions of Jolene and Love Will Tear Us Apart, and her second solo album weaves similar interpretative magic. Backed by funereal piano, her tremulous vocals strike to the disaffected heart of once-raucous anthems from Thin Lizzy and Prince, and renders ABBA´s Lay All Your Love On Me both desperate and devastating. Elsewhere, more predictable selections from Sandy Denny and Nico still beguile, while two of her own songs prove she´s no slouch in the songwriting department either. 4/5.
Q (UK)

The incredibly minimal piano accompaniment, full of unconventional chord changes, gives extra weight to Susanna´s voice – an extraordinarily pure instrument that sounds more like Sandy Denny´s every day. Perfect music for the nights of early winter, “Flower Of Evil” will long keep casting its shadows, and its spell.
The Word (UK)

Inventive interpretations, exquistively executed have always featured both on record and in her live sets. It´s a rather crass distinction, but her versions can be divided into the likely and unlikely, the former represented by Sandy Denny´s quivering “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” and Nico´s brittle but haunting “Janitor of Lunacy”, the latter by Lou Reed´s “Vicious”, Tom Petty´s “Don´t Come Around Here No More”, “Changes” by Black Sabbath and – most startingly – by Thin Lizzy´s “Jailbreak”. This manifests as a ghostly piano lament grazed by Susanna´s lustrous vocal, her chilly, gunmetal-grey beauty suggesting Emmylou Harris in a mile-deep fjord. That Bonnie “Prince” Billy is also onboard underlines the tremulous loveliness of this project. Listen alone – and weep with pleasure.
Time Out (UK)

Susanna has a genuinely moving voice, which makes the listener just stop and pay attention. At times her voice is haunting and at times it has a deep warmth. Despite the odd misfire, “Flower of Evil” is a chilled-out masterpiece from a truly great singer.
Bearded (UK)

Susanna (usually followed by “And The Magical Orchestra”) has focused on cover versions on this latest release, giving her unique interpretation of twelve songs, some well known, others not so. Bonnie “Prince” Billy joins her on a harrowing run through Thin Lizzy´s “Jailbreak” and Badfinger´s “Without You”, while elsewhere the effect is of a permafrost Cat Power, which is obviously a very good thing.
Clash (UK)

These interpretations are nothing less than intense. Thin Lizzy´s “Jailbreak” and Abba-Agnetha´s hit “Can´t Shake Loose” are almost unrecognisable, as are Lou Reed´s “Vicious” and Prince´s “Dance On”. The bleakness of the arrangements turns them into something new and captivating. And already-sad songs such as Badfinger´s “Without You” and Sandy Denny´s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” express a different kind of desolation. I am certain Nico would have loved this version of “Janitor Of Lunacy”. 4/5.
Rock N Reel (UK)

Ganz zart klingt das zweite Soloalbum von Susanna. Die norwegische Sängerin und Pianistin covert auf ”Flower of Evil” allerdings Stücke von Thin Lizzy, Nico, Abba, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath, Sandy Denny, Roy Harper, Prince, Tom Petty und Will Oldham. Gute Mischung, oder? Letzterer singt auch zweimal mit ihr im Duett. Einen solchen Querschnitt der Überraschungen hat Oldham ja bereits mit Tortoise gemacht. Susannas Varianten aus dem kalten Norden, mit klarer Stimme gesungen, sind noch einiges ruhiger und fragiler.
Choices (DE)

Coverversionen sind ein heikles Thema, das von bierseliger Stumpfsinns-Reproduktion von Typen, deren Plattensammlung aus drei frühen Böhse Onkelz-Platten besteht, bis zum Feuilletondiskurs reicht. Bei Susanna hat man es natürlich mit letzterem zu tun. Sie hat begriffen, dass die Originale von u.a. Black Sabbath, Abba, Prince oder Mariah Carey nur als Mittel zu einem höheren Ziel weiter verarbeitet werden können. Für gewöhnlich filtert sie selbst aus beschwingten Popsongs ein tragisches Moment heraus und walzt dieses zu einer schwermütigen Moll-Orgie aus, die dich selbst dann an den Rand des Freitodes treibt, wenn du zehn Minuten zuvor den Lotto-Jackpot geknackt hast.
Vice (DE)

Singer-Songwriterin Susanna Wallumrød liebt die Reduktion…. Diese fast ausschliesslich Cover-Versionen hinbreitende Musik ist eine Sensation ohne Verfallsdatum, nicht nur wenn sie mit Gastsänger Bonnie ”Prince” Billy den Schmachtfetzen ”Without You” entschlackt.
Leipziger Volkszeitung (DE)

Ett filter av melankoli ligger över skivan, tempon är neddragna och enkla arrangemang görs tunga av sorg och vemod. Det är stillsamt, känslosamt och riktigt bra. Susanna Wallumrøds vackert sorgsna röst passar så väldigt fint. ”Flower of Evil” har snurrat mycket i cd-spelaren. Versionerna av ”Jailbreak” och ”Vicious” är fantastiska! Bara att ge sig på dem talar om både gott mod och om gott självförtroende. Och Susanna Wallumrød gör det med den äran. Att hon dessutom förädlar dem och gör så egensinniga tolkningar är otroligt coolt!
Soundofmusic (SE)