[24 March 2009]
I thought this singer-songwriter was from Finland, but turns out Suomi’s pronounced like “Sue-me” and he’s cultivating a pure Irish sound. The Florida native, having honed his skills playing Irish folk music at Irish pubs, has written a collection of original songs and put out a debut, Self Titled, which could have been written any time in the last thirty years. These mid-tempo, conventional radio rock songs do have their origins in folk music, but have buffered the influence down to a slight jangle or a repetitious verse-verse-verse structure. Still, Suomi can be energetic and this energy can be infective—“San Francisco” and “Darwin, Jesus, the Devil and Me” have something of the country-indie stomp of early Okkervil River. The folk influence on “One More Time” belies a strong Dylan influence, which gets to the heart of it—Suomi’s still sorting out influences and straining to find a unique voice. Conventional harmonies and choruses aren’t going to highlight that, but it’s not simple to root sound in traditional folk music and create some new sound at the same time. His voice, at least, has a compelling edge of panic, a keening sharpness Suomi could make more of in the future.