Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
For all that doesn't happen or proceeds in a drawn out affair with a dedicated outcome - usually one that inspires grief and gnashing, there are table scraps. All that doesn't happen (as if it could all be included into one super entity, with common characteristics and birth marks) eats well, until it can hardly be recognized any longer. It all just goes on eating at you, taking your nourishment, stealing your servings when you've stepped away from your plate to use the restroom or turned to look over your shoulder at the crashing noise. They put on the paunches of gluttonous Americans and start to fill out in the face and in the legs, beyond what's normal, beyond what can just be coined as "eating well." It's a torturous method that consumes people as they thin out, start smoking twice as many cigarettes and drink barrels and barrels of the stuff that will make your tail curl upon impact.
It affects the timid and the kind, the saints and the sinners, the devils and the drunks all the same. People get turned inside out when they experience fragility, when they have to stand idly by as their newborn child is full of tubes and not able to breath on its own, when other people they love and trust continue to let them down, when those they'd love to spend time with/to share more of themselves with don't answer the call or fit the bill, when those who are loved can't be found anywhere and when they have to watch as loved ones fight unsuccessfully to bat back an incurable, deadly disease.
Lawrence, Kansas' Suzannah Johannes has zeroed in on this most intriguing way that human beings react to adversity. It doesn't mean that there's one reaction and she has gone ahead and looked into all of the ins and outs of disappointment and biting squalor. When it all goes down the drain, she's all eyes and ears - or at least has been a good many times in the past. Then again, a doctor who specializes in cancer treatment certainly can know everything there is to know about the suffering and destruction caused by the disease and he or she will have not ever been a survivor. The empathy that rests in those hands and those sympathetic eyes as news is given and as weakened people are consoled couldn't be held in a water tower's bulb.
Johannes, a demure and charmingly unassuming (meaning cheery and slyly sunny) woman with a young face, can knock your heart out with the weighty material that she's recently released on her self-titled EP on Range Life Records - the same people who have been bringing us Dri, Fourth of July and White Flight. She'll knock you on your ass with the overbearing, but sweetened gravity that she engraves into her tales of weary outcomes. They make you feel their depth and the comfortableness that can come when one's resigned to the uncomfortable situation. She writes about helping her aunt care for her grandmother as she died of liver cancer and there's a whisper in there of "take me," but it's in the form of patience, recognizing that there's a time - when she's got to see the light first.
For the time being, things are as black as they get. Things are wanting to be put to bed, when maybe the darkness can do us a huge favor and just keep the intruding light from letting us see too much for a little while, or at least until there are better sights. She keeps her tears dry - though they're there - and she likely signs and dates them, to make sure that they're forever going to serve as the reminders that it takes when one's trying to remember the way. Can you let her just torched your heart? Or find a new way to break it into a million pieces? Johannes is more than just a special talent with the ability to write pretty songs. She is this immaculate oracular being who dines on the candlelight that doesn't get to live on until it burns all the wax down into a hot pond, but gets shortened and blown out into faint light, then gray and then absolute black. Out of her mouth comes a "wheeeee" as our eyelids droop and we feel enraptured by a wonderful passage of solemnity.
Suzannah Johannes MySpace